Scandinavian Summer Solstice – History
Music; Ambience: Scandinavian music – violin, accordion, piccolo
It’s the summer solstice and we’re celebrating the longest day of the year at a Scandinavian festival. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Accordionists and fiddlers play traditional Swedish folk songs, dancers prance around a festive May Pole and volunteers dish out pickled herring. We’re at the American Scandinavian Association’s midsummer picnic in Carderock Park, Maryland. Swedish native, Rosemarie Oster, is a professor at the University of Maryland.
“Well, the summer solstice is celebrated by a lot of people all, all around the world, at least in the western world. And it’s the same thing in Sweden. The greeting of the longest day, in some places in Sweden – sunshine all the time, all night long. And it’s, you know, a celebration of the powers of nature and rejuvenation and all of this.”
Well, there’s a great deal of folklore associated with the summer solstice celebration which has its roots in pre-Christian practices.
“It’s a day and night when the spirits of the forest and nature are participating in the celebrations, so it is a sense of, finally, we have overcome the nine months, more or less, of dark weather. And if the weather is good, this is the real reason to celebrate.”
Everyone works up an appetite during this solstice celebration, and there is plenty of traditional Nordic food on hand, including salmon and, of course, Swedish meatballs. Most importantly, it’s a time to dance, sing and rejoice in the long days of summer.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.