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Monday, June 26, 2006

Midsommar in Wisconsin

Swedish heritage comes full circle with a Midsummer wreath.


Ingrid’s birthday crown, June 2006

Photo: courtesy of Moonfoolish

We’re not certain whether our friend Moonfoolish is Swedish, but if she’s not, she sure does act the part.

Her family celebrated Midsummer over the weekend as is traditional in much of Scandinavia. Close to the solstice, it’s observed “the eve of the Saturday between June 20- 26.” In more southerly parts of Europe, May Day is the big floral holiday, but this far north, “spring” flowers don’t come into full bloom until late June. Last year, we wrote about the glorious majstang (May pole), but with inspiration from Moonfoolish we concentrate this year on the MidsommÃ¥r wreath.

The Old World custom seems to reserve the making and wearing of wreaths for youngsters. The “girl who goes out in the meadow and, under unbroken silence, picks seven different kinds of flowers and tucks them under her pillow, will dream of the man she will marry.”


Midsummer, celebrated near Janesville, Wisconsin, June 24, 2006

Photo: courtesy of Moonfoolish

Moonfoolish and her family took tradition into their own hands, and made a gorgeous floral crown to honor sister Ingrid on her 60th birthday. Our friend writes, “We had a wonderful day.  We went on a garden tour in Janesville in the afternoon, came home to a dinner of Swedish meatballs and all the fixings and plenty of birthday cake.  Then we decorated the ‘Majstang’ and celebrated Midsummer in a very satisfying way.”

Check this site, for more on the Swedish settlement of Wisconsin.  Attracted by the Wisconsin topsoil, “the first Swedish colony was established by Gustav Unonius in New Upsala,” 1841. Several bad harvests in a row convinced a wave of Swedish farmers to emigrate in the 1850s.

Thank you so much, M., for sharing with us how your family is living out these floral customs. Ingrid, here’s hoping that wreath conjured delicious dreams. Happy birthday to you.



Posted by Julie on 06/26 at 11:22 AM
Culture & SocietySecular CustomsPermalink