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Swedish Midsummer – How to Celebrate and why the Swedes love it

Swedish Midsummer – How to Celebrate and why the Swedes love it

Curious about the Swedish Midsummer? It’s probably the most famous and celebrated day in all of Sweden.

Here’s everything you need to know as well as what we eat for midsummer, songs, games, dates, and more info about the midsummer pole and where to celebrate midsummer.

Video about Swedish Midsummer

Check out this video explaining the Swedish Midsummer in a funny way. You can also continue reading below to learn everything about the celebrations. 

Why do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?

Some believe that midsummer is a pagan celebration, and that might be true. However, there are no written sources from pre-Christian times, so one can only speculate about the theory of midsummer being a pagan tradition in Sweden. 

According to Christianity, the birthday of John the Baptist occur on the 24 June, and that’s the official explanation of why we celebrate midsummer in Sweden. 

However, probably around 99% of the Swedish population doesn’t really care about the birthday of John the Baptist since most are atheists and celebrate midsummer for other reasons. 

Nowadays, many celebrate midsummer in Sweden because the summer is here and it has become a folk tradition with dancing and party. Some people also say that Midsummer Eve is the longest day of the year, but that’s a truth with modification. 

The summer solstice occurs every year on the 21 June or 20 June, and Midsummer Eve only occurs on that day several years apart. Before 1953, the Midsummer celebrations always occurred on 23 June. 

Other theories include that the farmers didn’t have much to do around the country this time of the year, which led to them arranging parties. It’s uncertain if midsummer celebrations occurred in Sweden before the pre-Christian times. 

Dancing at Swedish Midsummer

Photo: Piotr Wawrzyniuk /

What date is Midsummer in Sweden 2023?

This year, the Midsummer Eve is on the 23 June, and the Midsummer day is the 24 June. 

Before 1953, every Midsummer Eve was on the 23 June, men this changed so that Midsummer Eve always occurs week 25 on a Friday, which means that the date will change from year to year.

Photo: Conny Sjostrom /

Swedish Midsummer Food

So, what do Swedes eat for Midsummer? The tradition can be varied across the country, and from family to family, but below you can see some typical Swedish food that is being eaten during midsummer’s eve. 

  • Sill (Herring)
  • Nypotatis (a special type of potatoes)
  • Lax (Salmon)
  • Västerbottenpaj (a special type of cheese pie)
  • Strömming (Baltic herring)
  • Ägg (eggs)
  • Jordgubbstårta eller jordgubbar (strawberry cake and strawberries)

Swedish Midsummer food

Songs to sing while drinking schnapps on Midsummer in Sweden

“Helan Går”, “När Gäddorna får” and “Tänk om jag hade lilla nubben” are probably some of the most famous drinking songs for a Swedish Midsummer celebration. These are known as “Snapsvisa” in Swedish. 

There are so many different kinds of drinking songs in Sweden, and various regional versions. Luckily for you, most Midsummer parties in Sweden will have a little paper book with the lyrics written down. 

Helan går – Song text

Helan går, sjung hopp faderallanlej
Helan går, sjung hopp faderallanlej
Och den som inte helan tar
han heller inte halvan får
Helan går, sjung hopp faderallanlej

The Midsummer Wreath

It’s a tradition that girls and women wear a midsummer wreath on midsummer eve. Most make these themselves by binding flowers and leaves around a steel thread. 

It’s accepted for boys and men to wear these as well, but it’s not something that is typical or traditional when it comes to Swedish Midsummer celebrations. 

There are also no rules for which flowers or leaves one can use while making the midsummer wreath, but often some colorful and pretty summer flowers mixed with green leaves will due. 

Midsummer wreath

Midsummer Celebrations around the country

Please note that all official celebrations will be different due to the pandemic. This information is about usual celebrations that take place annually under normal circumstances. 

Almost every town and village around Sweden will have its own Midsummer celebration. Many gather in parks or green areas, but some also celebrate in their villas or summer houses with friends and families. 

The Swedish Midsummer celebration is often the most highlighted party and event of the year along with New Year’s Eve. 

Photo: Hans Christiansson /

Midsummer celebrations in Stockholm

The biggest celebration in Stockholm, which is also one of the most traditional ones happens at Skansen, but you will also find local midsummer celebrations in all of the central parks.

Many locals also have summer houses in the Stockholm archipelago, so if you’re lucky, you might be invited to one of those celebrations.  In Waxholm, you can celebrate a traditional midsummer with a maypole, songs, and dances. Everybody will bring their own food. 

Photo: Mikael Damkier /

Traditional Midsummer in Dalarna

The region of Dalarna is famous for its traditional midsummer celebration where people dress up in folk costumes and play live music. The planning for these celebrations starts several weeks before midsummer eve, and if you want to celebrate a true Swedish midsummer, then this is the place to go. 

The biggest midsummer celebration usually happens in Leksand, in Sammilsdal, where more than 20 000 people gather to celebrate Swedish midsummer every year. It’s a big event, and here you will experience everything that is true to the tradition. 

Photo: Anders Nilsson – Sthlm /

Midsummer in Gothenburg

The second largest city in Sweden of course also have some big celebrations. For example, at Gunnebo castle, many people gather for a traditional midsummer eve. Also, the amusement park Liseberg, and Nääs and Tjolöholms castle arrange midsummer celebrations. 

Traditional Midsummer in Sweden

Photo: Fotos593 /

More about the Swedish Midsummer

Midsummer is one of the most celebrated days of the year, and everything closes down on Midsummer day. Most workers only work a half day or have the day off on Midsummer Eve. 

It’s a traditional holiday that goes back for centuries. It included the raising of a Maypole, Midsummer food, dancing and various games for the whole family, or adults only. 

Almost every Swede will have a schnaps or two accompanied to the food. Alcohol has a very strong connection to the Midsummer celebration in Sweden, however, these days not everyone drinks as much, and some even choose non-alcoholic beverages and just join the other celebrations. 

If you want to embrace a traditional Swedish Midsummer I recommend that you borrow a Swedish folk costume. It’s not something that everyone does, but the very traditional celebrations, like the ones in Dalarna often includes a lot of people wearing folk costumes. 

In cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg, most people just dress up a little extra for the occasion. 

Photo: Conny Sjostrom /

The Maypole/Midsummerpole

A Midsummer pole, also known as Maypole is believed to have German origins and came to Sweden somewhere in the Middle Ages. The name of the Maypole has nothing to do with the month of May though, it comes from an expression that you “may the pole”.

In Sweden, most people call it “Midsommarstång” which would translate into a Midsummer pole. A legend also says that the pole is believed to be an upside down phallus symbol from the Viking age, but most experts agree that this is just a myth. 

Midsummer Pole

The tradition of girls picking seven kinds of flowers

According to the legend, all girls should pluck seven kinds of flowers and put them under their sleeping pillow on Midsummer Eve. If you do this, it is said that you will dream about the person you will marry. 

Popular songs and dances on a Swedish Midsummer

  • Morsgrisar är vi allihopa (we are all mama’s boys/girls)
  • Små grodorna (little frogs)
  • Vi äro musikanter (we are musicians)
  • Tre små gummor (three old women)
  • Prästens lilla kråka (the priest’s little crow)
  • Raketen (the rocket)

For a non-swede, these songs and dances probably doesn’t make much sense, and to be honest, for most Swedes they probably don’t either, but these are songs that we sing and dance since we’re little children, and there is no real midsummer celebration without “the little frogs” dance and song. 

The skinny dip at night

Another tradition on a Swedish Midsummer is to end it with a skinny dip at night. It’s not mandatory to be naked, but many will be completely naked accompanied with an old or new partner after a couple of the famous schnapps. 


Want to know more about the Swedish Midsummer? Leave a comment below and I’m happy to explain more!

Mark Bowen

Tuesday 16th of June 2020

Thank you for the overview. Very helpful. Do most of the parties/celebration occur on the Eve or the Day? Thank you!

Alexander Waltner

Wednesday 17th of June 2020

People celebrate on Midsummer's Eve. Midsummer Day is a public holiday, so almost everything will be closed. Some families do gather on both days though, but the big celebrations with maypoles, etc.. all take place on Midsummer's Eve :)