In the middle of the summer far up north in Scandinavia the days grow longer and longer and people get ready for a party. Known in different parts of Scandinavia as ‘Midsommar,” or “Jonsok,” this mid-summer holiday, celebrated some time between June 19th and 24th, marks the days of the year with the most daylight, the pagan celebration of the coming of summer and, not insignificantly, the beginning of the school vacation. In Norway, “Jonsok” fuses pagan traditions like enjoying a bonfire with pilgrimages to church to mark the passing of St. John. There is also the tradition of holding mock weddings of youth, such as this one pictured in 2007. Watch footage from an early ’70s Jonsok celebration, complete with bobbing for apples (1:24), a belly scooter race (2:32), hula hooping (2:40) and walking on stilts (3:06). In Sweden, midsommar celebrations are less likely to include bonfires–Swedes save the fires for Valborgs night in the spring–but they include include dances around a maypole (a “midsommarstång,” or “midsommar pole”) wrapped in greens. Also, Swedish tradition dictates that on the eve of midsummer unmarried girls pick seven kinds of flowers, jump over seven roundpole fences, then put the flowers under their pillows while they sleep. That way they’ll dream about their future spouse.
In class we’re going to mush few traditions together, celebrating Jonsok and Midsommer by having a mock wedding, dancing around a maypole and jumping over as many roundpole fences as we can muster. As a nod to our Finnish friends, we’re also going to dance the jenkka!