Wherever you are in the world at midsummer time, you will be able to find gatherings of lost-looking Swedes to celebrate with. Follow our lead and you’ll be able to infiltrate the groups inconspicuously.
Choose the day
Midsummer is the longest day of the year and falls around 23rd June. Swedes always move it to the closest Friday afternoon and evening, which is 20th June this year. In Sweden, celebrations are on the Friday evening. Here in London, we can't persuade our bosses to let us drink aquavit on a Friday afternoon, so things get going on Saturday. Check to see what's happening in your local area.
If you are in London, maybe just happen to be passing by Hyde Park. Nothing official, you know, but we gather there is a chance a few Swedes will be meeting up and dancing and singing for a bit. Around midday. Near Speaker's Corner. They have been doing that for years and years, so there's a good chance they'll be doing it again.
It's midsummer, and you're celebrating nature. Go to the park, a lake, or a field.
Don't forget your umbrella.
Wear a garland in your hair
Essential attire for women. You can make a floral garland from wire and flowers and staple it onto your ears - learn how to HERE. Alternatively, H&M do a nice range, being Swedish. Men can wear the garland too, and most do after a few drinks.
White and floral is the style for women - but not so much that you appear to be going to a meeting of Chintz Anonymous. Paired with the garland, it will make you look amazing and a bit pagan. Wear your hair down like Freya. Or Loreen.
Gentlemen, it's all about pastels. Tight trousers (white, yellow), pointy shoes, a pink shirt and Ray Bans. You want to make it seem like all this is a bit beneath you. Sport a fashionable beard or moustache. Google 'Stureplan fashion' for an idea of how actual Swedish metrosexuals achieve this look.
Means Sandwich Cake. It’s a thing. A cake that is not a cake but a massive sandwich. If you make a Sandwich Cake every Swede in the vicinity will love you forever. Seriously.
A nubbe (the plural is 'nubbar') is a little shot of aquavit and it’s essential to get hold of these. Make sure you bring cold ones to the park. Recommended dose is two beers to one nubbe. Take care, it’s strong stuff - and if you can’t do it properly, Swedes will see through you. Keep your head in one piece until you can speak fluent Swedish (three nubbar or more) and nobody will notice you’re an imposter.
Buy aquavit at our place - we stock many kinds, both online and in the shop in London
Drinking songs you need to learn for when you drink your nubbar. Just learn this one (see below) and you’ll be fine.
If you are stuck, sing Euphoria.
Our maypole is used in June, which technically makes it a Junepole. Like here, it's also decorated with lovely flowers, as well as two circular garlands either side at the top. Just to reinforce the symbolism of what it means (think about it...). We raise the pole around lunch time. If you end up celebrating in Hyde Park in London, you may have to pretend there is a maypole because health and safety means no pole is officially allowed, so we dance around our handbags instead.
Every Swede sings this song. Everyone. And does the actions, which involve jumping about like a frog.
After the dancing and the cake and a bit more drinking, we get physical. Games of kubb (a tactical, skittles-like game that has its roots in Viking times), tug of war, arm wrestling and naked mud slinging.
Okay, so we don’t do the last one. Except when we do.
Dancing. If you are cool and dressed like someone from Stockholm's Stureplan (and, frankly, still standing), you may want to head to a club for some dancing and more drinking.
Here's a link to the hottest ticket in London town this year
Here's a really great place to go if you just want to be with Swedes and friends and drink great cocktails More here
If you're up for something more traditional, dust off a CD player and pop on some dansband CDs (and ABBA, obv). Pay a visit to the ScandiKitchen toilets for dansband suggestions. You'll see what we mean.
If you don’t have a partner, pick seven different kinds of flowers and put them under your pillow and you will dream of the person you'll marry. If you’re not willing to put all your eggs in one basket, head to a bar and revel in the fact that this is the one time of year where Swedes are not at all reserved. The birth rate always spikes in Sweden about nine months after midsummer.
The next day
You will wake, having dreamt about the person you will marry. There may be images flashing before your eyes of people wearing yellow trousers. Flashes of blue and yellow flags and memories of having an arm-wrestle with a lamp post. Midsummer comes but once a year. Thank goodness.