When we toured Scandinavia in the spring of 2006, we spent three weeks in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. This was a self guided tour. We rented a car and followed the itinerary we had spent months researching. We were going to be finding some of our ancestral homelands, for both of us, both in Norway and Sweden.
In Sweden, using his skill in genealogy research, Tom located some cousins of mine in the ancestral village of Skamhed. We met my 4th cousin Yvonne and her son Fredrik, who showed us around the village, including the location of the farm of Nils Person and Stina Olsdatter, parents of Kristina, who is the mother of my paternal grandfather Olaf Norquist. Olaf and his parents immigrated to the US when he was an infant. We also met my cousins on Olaf's father's side. It was a wonderful day of connection.
As we were driving through this northwest region of Sweden we saw what appeared to be May Poles in every village. I asked Yvonne about them. She explained that they were Solstice Poles, for Midsummer, which was widely celebrated in Sweden. Since we were there in early June, she sent us photographs of the actual celebration as it occurred later that month.
This is Yvonne, ready for the day.Flowers and greens have to be gathered and made into garlands, circles, and crowns.
On the day of celebration, usually the Saturday closest to the Solstice, the villagers, wearing their national and local costumes, carry the garlands in procession to the pole.
That's Fredrik, third in line.The yellow and blue dress is the National "Sverige" dress. The black and red one is the local "Jarna" dress.
The pole stays up all year. I wondered how they decorated it, but the pole is lashed to "flag stones" and can be lowered to remove the old garlands, and then raised with the new. As you see it takes a village.
Then of course there is celebrating long into the night in the land of the almost midnight sun.
It all makes me want to be there.
I hope you are all enjoying your first day of summer. Happy Solstice!