7 Facts About Sweden's Midsummer Celebration

Andreas Modess, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Andreas Modess, iStock / Getty Images Plus

Horror fans are anticipating July 3’s release of Midsommar, a creepy thriller in which two American tourists (Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor) experience the little-seen traditions of Sweden’s Midsummer Festival. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Ari Aster called the movie's Midsummer “a particularly special iteration of the festival,” and the film certainly takes liberties with the real experience, which is far from terrifying. Take a look at how locals actually celebrate this annual gathering and why it’s become a such a treasured part of Swedish culture.

1. Midsummer started as a way to welcome summer (and maybe fertility).

Table in a garden ready for Swedish Midsummer celebration
Birgittas, iStock / Getty Images Plus

Sweden has been celebrating Midsummer (midsommar in Swedish) for centuries. The event, which is typically held on the Friday after the summer solstice, is intended to recognize the beginning of the country’s summer and its five-week annual holiday, including a stretch of time where, in the northern part of the country, the sun never actually sets. Most Swedish cities have their own Midsummer event, and many are marked by dancing around a flower-covered maypole, which some have interpreted as a representation of fertility (however, others argue that no explicit connection has been found between the two).

2. During Midsummer, city streets can be empty.

Midsummer’s one concession to appearing spooky: Because celebrations take place in the countryside, most residents head out of town for the festivities beginning on Midsummer’s Eve, leaving their cities almost devoid of people. Businesses shut down and roads are cleared. That eerie serenity is broken as soon as you hit the main thoroughfares, which are typically congested with cars looking to get to the country.

3. Midsummer revelers pick flowers to find true love.

Midsummer flowers in Sweden
bildfokus, iStock / Getty Images Plus

During Midsummer, both men and women participate in a tradition: They pick seven different species of flowers and put them under their pillow. Legend has it that their future spouse will appear to them in a dream. Due to the romance of the festival, Sweden experiences quite the uptick in its population. According to CNN, many children are born exactly nine months following the celebration.

4. During Midsummer, the drink of choice is aquavit.

Traditionally, Midsummer revelers eat potatoes, pickled herring, and strawberries for lunch, and they typically imbibe on beer and aquavit, a spirit distilled from potatoes or grains and flavored with either caraway or dillseed. There’s no masking the taste, either. People usually drink it straight (though chasing it with a beer isn’t unheard of). Wine and other beverages are rare sights.

5. Some Midsummer attendees wear traditional clothing. 

Attendees celebrate the Midsummer holiday in Sweden
Donald Judge, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Revelers in Sweden typically attend Midsummer parties in casual or garden party-type clothing. But some make an effort to wear the traditional folk dress, or folkdrekten, of their region. In Småland, women wear white lace blouses and ankle-length skirts; men wear blue vests and elk skin pants. Participants make their own flower crowns, or krans.

6. Midsummer has a classic song about frogs.

There is a significant amount of singing that goes into Midsummer. One traditional song is "Små Grodorna," or "Little Frogs." Partygoers sing the lyrics ("the little frogs … are funny to observe") while dancing around the maypole and pretending to hop around like amphibians. If you’re a tourist and are invited to join in, you probably should.

7. Even IKEA celebrates Midsummer.

Swedish furniture firm IKEA doesn’t let Midsummer go by unnoticed. Each year, stores will often lay out a Midsummer Smorgasbord for customers. The all-you-can-eat buffet runs $16.99 ($4.99 for kids) and features trademark Midsummer dishes like herring, potato salad, and fresh strawberries.

The 8 Best Horror Movies to Stream on Hulu Right Now

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Looking for a good scare this Halloween season? If you’re a Hulu subscriber, you’ll be able to get your fill of creepy content. Check out eight of the best horror movies currently streaming on the service.

1. Hellraiser (1987)

Horror author Clive Barker made the move to feature directing with this tale of a man (Sean Chapman) who makes the grievous error of opening a portal to hell and proceeds to make his brother’s family targets of the sadistic Cenobites, led by Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Don’t bother with the endless sequels; the original is the best (and goriest) of the lot.

2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Paranoia runs deep in this remake of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). In the ‘70s iteration, Donald Sutherland plays a health inspector who can’t shake the feeling that people around him seem a little off. He soon grows wise to the reality that aliens are walking among us as virtual human replicas. Naturally, they’re not keen on being discovered.

3. A Quiet Place (2018)

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt star as a couple living in a world terrorized by creatures that hunt by sound. Their largely-silent existence means every stray creak, cry, or noise threatens to expose them to the monsters—a danger that's only compounded when Blunt discovers she’s pregnant.

4. The Orphanage (2007)

A sense of dread looms over The Orphanage, a Spanish-language thriller with Belén Rueda as Laura, who returns to the child care facility that raised her so she can make a difference for a new generation of children. Strange things begin as soon as she arrives, with her son going missing and hints of unwelcome guests unraveling her nerves. It’s a film best not watched alone.

5. Event Horizon (1997)

If 1979’s Alien stirred your interest in space scares, Event Horizon might make for a worthwhile watch. After a spaceship presumed lost suddenly reappears, a crew of investigators (Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne) board to find answers.

6. Children of the Corn (1984)

A couple (Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton) passing through a small rural town find a lack of adult supervision curious—until the kids reveal themselves to be homicidal cult members. Based on a Stephen King short story.

7. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi perfected “splatstick” horror in this cult classic about hapless boob Ash (Campbell) who escapes to a remote cabin retreat with girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) and unwittingly unleashes a cascade of evil. Though it’s more amusing than scary, Raimi’s inventive imagery is morbidly fascinating.

8. Child’s Play (1988)

Good mom Catherine Hicks buys a Good Guys doll for her son, Andy. Unfortunately, the doll—dubbed Chucky—has been possessed by the spirit of a serial killer (Brad Dourif) and proceeds to make young Andy’s life miserable, particularly after he discovers the kitchen cutlery.

25 of Oscar Wilde's Wittiest Quotes

By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On October 16, 1854, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. He would go on to become one of the world's most prolific writers, dabbling in everything from plays and poetry to essays and fiction. Whatever the medium, his wit shone through.

1. On God

"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."

2. On the world as a stage

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

3. On forgiveness

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

4. On good vs. bad

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

5. On getting advice

"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."

6. On happiness

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

7. On cynicism

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

8. On sincerity

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

9. On money

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."

10. On life's greatest tragedies

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

11. On hard work

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."

12. On living within one's means

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

13. On true friends

"True friends stab you in the front."

14. On mothers

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

15. On fashion

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

16. On being talked about

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

17. On genius

"Genius is born—not paid."

18. On morality

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."

19. On relationships

"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?"

20. On the definition of a "gentleman"

"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally."

21. On boredom

"My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s."

22. On aging

"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."

23. On men and women

"I like men who have a future and women who have a past."

24. On poetry

"There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope."

25. On wit

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."

And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

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