Midsummer in Sweden – Jämtland Härjedalen

The region Jämtland Härjedalen is no exception when it comes to the tradition of celebrating Swedish Midsummer. In just about every village, there are events around the magic Maypole, for socializing, singing, and dancing to celebrate summer. Jamtli in Östersund is the most popular place in Jämtland Härjedalen for celebrating Midsummer, both for locals and visitors. 

Midsummer eve is always on a Friday between the 19th and the 25th of June and the Saturday afterwards is called Midsummer´s day and a day for rest. There is a strong tradition around celebrating midsummer and therefore a lot of shops, local buses, authorities and others will have limited opening hours or will be entirely closed on these two days.

Jamtli midsommar
Midsummer at Jamtli, the open air museum in Östersund. Photo: Jamtli

Midsummer celebration at Jamtli in Östersund

The Jamtli Midsummer starts with everyone picking flowers for the Maypole/Midsummer pole. The flowers are gathered and formed into wreaths and garlands to cover the wooden pole with a cross and two rings hanging onto the cross. When some strong people make a joint effort to secure the pole in an upright position the crowd will be cheering and that´s when the dancing can start. Traditionally there is live music and the dancing is usually led by a person instructing everyone on how to make the different moves that goes with the traditional songs.

Many bring blankets and a basket filled with goodies to enjoy a picnic meal in connection to the celebration. All of Jamtli’s animals, horses, cows, sheep, and goats, are released into their pastures for the summer, and the joy visitors see in their behavior adds to the experience of the day. The Midsummer celebrations is also the start of “Jamtli Historyland” – when all of Jamtli´s actors are found in the different historical houses, interacting with the visitors for the summer.

In this film, you can see Jamtli's Midsummer celebration.

Midsummer celebration is an ancient tradition

Midsummer is a traditional Swedish celebration that has its roots in ancient pagan rituals to mark the summer solstice and the original date for celebrations is on June 24th. The Midsummer pole was and is a central symbol of the holiday and is believed to have been introduced to Sweden from Germany during the Middle Ages. The pole is decorated with flowers and leafy birch branches. The pole often had a central place in the village or town square where people gathered to celebrate the holiday. For a period of time, Midsummer celebrations were forbidden as it was seen as a pagan ritual. But celebrations continued secretly in remote, rural areas. Eventually, the tradition spread back into the cities, and today Midsummer is celebrated all across Sweden.

Midsummer wreaths and dancing around the Midsummer pole

Many people create their own wreaths made of flowers and leafy branches, which they then wear on their heads throughout the holiday. When gathering family and friends on Midsummer, it is customary to sing, dance, and play games. Classic songs with traditional moves are sung around the Midsummer pole. Examples include Små grodorna – “The Little Frogs,” Små grisarna – “The Little Pigs,” Vi äro musikanter – “We Are Musicians,” and “Ritsch Ratsch, Filibom Bom Bom”. In recent times, other games such as Kubb, Boot throwing, “Pen in the bottle”, and “Spinning around the pole” have become popular to engage in as part of the celebrations.

The Midsummer Feast

A festive meal served on nice China and with a nice white tablecloth is customary for midsummer. Foods include pickled herring with different seasonings (usually a midsummer feast table should have around three kinds of pickled herring) and fresh potatoes (early harvest), along with other traditional dishes such as meatballs, mini sausages (so called “prinskorv” with a large percentage of meat in them), and ham.

The food Swedes eat on Midsummer is closely associated with the food Swedes eat at Christmas and Easter, such as pickled herring, eggs, ham, potatoes, and salmon. However, the tradition also revolves around grilling and smoking meat or fish during Midsummer, which stems from the ancient pagan belief that fire had protective powers against evil spirits. Taking a Schnapps (Aquavit) with the meal is something that has followed in the tradition and is often served with the pickled herring, fresh potatoes, and other traditional Midsummer dishes.

Berry-based desserts and pies are another tradition in Midsummer celebrations. In Sweden, Midsummer is called the “wild strawberry weekend” because it is the peak of the strawberry season (in the south of Sweden and in the north the peak will occur a little later), so it is not uncommon to have strawberry-based desserts like strawberry and cream cake, strawberry pie, and strawberry ice cream for dessert.

Seven types of flowers under the pillow

One of the strongest traditions associated with Midsummer is picking and placing seven types of wild flowers under the pillow on Midsummer night. The significance of seven types of flowers stems from the belief that each flower represents different aspects of love and life. The tradition is also associated with the belief that the flowers will create dreams during the night about the future spouse of the person who picked the flowers.

Midsummer Backgården Alsen Sweden
Midsummer at Backgården open air museum in Alsen, Sweden. Photo: Anne Adsten

Midsummer celebrations in Jämtland Härjedalen

“Milk jug throwing” at Prästgården in Ljusnedal

Prästgården is located in Destination Funäsfjällen and the celebration is known as a recurring traditional Midsummer party for the whole family. Everyone dresses the Maypole with flowers and garlands, and together with musicians, they dance around the Maypole. There are local producers selling refreshments and food, and during the day, you can participate in prestigious competitions such as “Ankracet” (guessing which plastic duck will be first downstream) or “Milk jug throwing”, followed by a prestigious award ceremony.

Midsummer Funäsfjällen
Midsummer in Funäsfjällen, Sweden. Photo: Funäsfjällen

Bystugan by Lofssjön in Lofsdalen

 In Lofsdalen, the celebration takes place in a traditional manner near the village’s community center by lake Lofssjön. The midsummer pole is dressed by all the children and adults, and then there is dancing and singing to the classic songs and dances associated with Midsummer. Inside the village community center, there is a sale of homemade pastries.


Herring lunch at Vemdalen’s Heritage Farm

A traditional Midsummer celebration is held with pickled herring lunch, pastries, and dancing and games around the Midsummer pole. Feel free to participate in dressing the Midsummer pole the day before Midsummer Eve. Flowers are picked to adorn the pole. During the Midsummer Eve, there is a café with homemade pastries, raffles, and an area for kids with a playhouse, carpentry shed, and balance beam with references to how children were playing in the old days. There are also exhibition areas open for visitors to explore how people lived in Vemdalen in the 1890s at this, the open air museum of Destination Vemdalen.


Classic strawberry cake at the Heritage Farm in Pålgård, Ragunda

The Heritage Farm in Pålgård has a traditional Midsummer celebration for family, relatives, and friends with the raising of the Midsummer pole. When the day begins, there is traditional dancing around the pole with lots of singing, laughter, and joy singing along in the Swedish summer songs. To truly make Midsummer what it is, classic Swedish strawberry cake with whipped cream is served.

There is also an opportunity to visit the various exhibitions on Ragunda’s history in the past and present!


Midsummer Night Hike to Ansätten

If you want to experience a different but very cozy Midsummer, go to the village Bakvattnet in the evening and take the Midsummer Night Hike up to the top of Mount Ansätten. It is a guided tour along the flower trail, and the estimated return to the village is after midnight. The hope is to have an unforgettable Midsummer experience with a beautiful hike, delightful company, and stunning views. Mount Ansätten is said to have abut 420 species of flowers!



Blomstervandring Ansätten, Krokom | Foto: Anneli Åman
Midsummer night hike along the Floral trail to the top of Mount Ansätten, Krokom | Foto: Anneli Åman

Midsummer with Pippi Longstocking at Torpet Bräcke

Experience your Midsummers in the spirit of the famous Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Feel free to dress up as a character from Astrid Lindgren’s stories when you visit Torpet Bräcke. Pippi Longstocking will be there to dress the Midsummer pole together with everyone. There will be a ring dance with Pippi and the elderly woman “Prussiluskan” from the story, trying to keep her order. The children will search for Pippi’s gold coins, and the treasure hunt will lead to the “Lemonade tree”. There are pony rides for children and there is always a Midsummer café, lottery, and hamburgers for sale.


Traditional Midsummer celebration in Strömsund

The Midsummer pole is dressed together with everyone who wants to participate at the Heritage Farm Strömsund and with live music playing. With Ströms Vattudal (the river system coming from the Norwegian border floating down to the Swedish coast) flowing just tens of meters from the area, you can experience everything that belongs to traditional Midsummer celebrations. Café Tomten is open for coffee and cakes, and there are goody bags for all the children.


Midsummer in Fröå Gruva, Åre

Welcome to the mountains of west Jämtland and Fröå Gruva (the old abandoned copper mine) by Åre. First, tractors with decorated wagons arrive at Bergstugan, Fröå Gruva, where a traditional celebration with dances and live music begins. There is a Midsummer buffet, lunch, crispbread, pastries, cake, and drinks available.


Hiking at Fröå Gruva, Åre | Photo: Sandra Lee Pettersson
Hiking at Fröå Gruva, Åre. Photo: Sandra Lee Pettersson
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