Happy first day of Summer! Today is officially summer and also the summer solstice (the longest day of the year). In Sweden, this means the days of the midnight sun, dancing around the Midsommar (Midsummer) pole, eating pickled herring and wearing flower crowns. This holiday is by far my favorite celebration in Sweden and something I look forward to each year. Sweden’s celebration doesn’t always fall on the actual summer solstice; this year the Midsommar celebrations take place on June 22nd.
My husband is Swedish and I am American, but I have been quick to pick up Swedish traditions and have especially fallen in love with Midsommar. My inner child emerges and I adore picking wild flowers, binding them into a gorgeous flower crown and wearing it on my head all day long. How many varieties of flowers go into a crown? The Swedish tradition varies depending on the region. Some pick 9 and some pick 7 different types of flowers. I was taught 7 so that is what I usually do. Tradition says that unmarried girls should pick 7 different types of flowers while in complete silence, put them under their pillow and this will make them dream of their future husband.
One of my favorite parts of the day is wandering around the forest picking the flowers and leafy branches for my crown. I usually go out early in the morning with my bike and basket and pick bunches of flowers. If I have any left over, I arrange them in a vase for the table setting in the evening.
In Sweden you can see people of all ages and genders wearing flower crowns on Midsommar’s eve while dancing around a Midsommar pole (which looks like a May pole adorned with fresh flowers). The parks and yards even in small towns are alive with people having picnics and enjoying various Midsommar games and activities. For the adults, there is usually heavy drinking as they take shots of a potato-based brandy called Snaps after singing a “Snapsvisa” (a short funny or vulgar drinking song) and taking a bite of pickled herring. The snaps really does help to wash down the strong taste of the herring and leave you with a slightly sweet aftertaste. The celebrations are hugely fun and something I have totally embraced about the Swedish culture!
The most important part of the day (at least to me) is making the flower crown! I remember being so excited the first time I was in Sweden for Midsommar and got to make a crown with the help of my Swedish girlfriends. With several Midsommar celebrations now under my belt, I feel confident in my flower crown skills and look forward to seeing everyone’s version each year. Feel free to dress your Midsommar crown as you like: some prefer fuller crowns while others prefer more simple crowns with a thinner band of flowers. It is also common to have a crown with a larger focus on big leaves and greenery while some crowns are made of just flowers. I typically like a mix of the two and make a quite big flower crown full of beautiful flowers all around, making me feel like a garden fairy!
What you need:
- flowers from 7 different types of flowers
- several leafy branches that are bendable yet sturdy to support the base of your crown
- thin florists wire
- scissors or garden pruning shears
Step 1: Pick 7 different types of flowers as well as leafy branches. It is important to cut the flower with a large part of the stem remaining so it is easier to bind.
Step 2: Gather the leafy branches and wrap a long piece of steel wire around them. Keep wrapping the branches together until you have a long enough piece to fit around your head.
Step 3: Decide on a size that feels comfortable on your head but not too loose, otherwise it will slide around. Secure the pieces of leafy branches into a complete circle with a piece of wire.
Step 4: Begin filling in the crown with flowers by alternating them around the leafy base. Use more wire to bind each flower’s stem to the leafy base.
Step 5: After your crown looks full, try it on to see how it looks and feels. Fill in missing areas with extra flowers until your flower crown looks just the way you like!
In the end you will have a beautiful flower crown perfect for a summer celebration or when you want something to make you feel like a garden fairy for the day 🙂 If you plan to use the crown all day and night long, spritz it with a water bottle sprayer to help the flowers look fresh and last longer.
So go gather some flowers, breathe in the fresh air and celebrate the beginning of summer like a Swede with your Midsommar flower crown!