Stories > Happy Midsummer from Gran Turismo
Happy Midsummer from Gran Turismo

Happy Midsummer from Gran Turismo

Published 2019-06-21 by Peter Ternström

Tomorrow it is Midsummer. It is, by far, the most important day of the year in Scandinavia. Much more important than Christmas, Easter and all other festive days combined. However, to many uninitiated, some of the festivities can seem a bit bizarre. Here is a short rundown of what is going on in Scandinavia tomorrow:

The Midsummer Pole / May Pole

An important feature of Midsummer is the Midsummer Pole / May Pole (majstång). The Maypole is raised, dressed in flowers with two hoops up top. It is then used as a centre of worship during the afternoon and evening.

Do you think the maypole has a faint similarity to a penis? That is not coincidental. It is supposed to look like a gigantic fallos, and everyone has them in their backyard. The larger, the better.

The most important families raise maypoles that are 20 meters tall. This way all neighbours can see how awesome their reproductive power is.

The frog dance

During the afternoon the children, together with the parents, dance around the majstång singing childrens’ songs. The most popular one is called "little frogs" (små grodorna).

The lyrics are: "The small frogs, the small frogs, are fun to look at. No tails, no tails, they have no tails. No ears, no ears, they have no ears." 

The food

Today, fish is on the menu. Most importantly, herring (sill) in all available forms: smoked, fermented, served with onions, served with dill, often with potatoes.

For the non-fish eaters, there are always tons of meatballs (köttbullar). There is also loads of strawberries and ice cream for the children.

The nubbe

The Midsummer is an all-day drinking binge like there is no tomorrow. The most important drink is herb vodka, also called "nubbe". All this day drinking comes hand in hand with drinking songs.

One of the most common tunes you'll hear is Helan Går ('The whole thing goes', referring to the drink). A loose translation of some of the lyrics would be "Chug it down, Sing 'hup-de-la-la-la-loo-lah-lay', chug it down, Sing 'hup-de-la-la-lah-lay, And he who doesn't chug it down, then he won't get the other half either".

Other interesting facts about midsummer

It is estimated that roughly 25% of all young Scandinavians lose their virginity outdoors on the late midsummers night. This is somewhat true to the tradition - midsummer is an old Norse pagan fertility fest.

Happy midsummer

For all of you in Scandinavia - Glad Midsommar! For the rest of you, happy Midsummer and please don’t contact us before 16:00 on Saturday.

All the best from Peter, Björn, Justyna, Michal, Marcin, Zdravko, Chiara, Pietro and James

Peter Ternström
peter@granturismo.org
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