Photo Source: https://www.visitstockholm.com photographer Yanan Li
There is not another holiday in Sweden that brings out the playfulness in the reserved Swede like our summer solstice celebration of Midsummer. While this celebration is loads of fun for us Swedes, an outsider might think we are being a bit strange! You may want to alert your new expats that that they might be drawn in to singing about frogs and dancing around a fertility pole with flowers in their hair. Oh, and don’t forget to prep them about the pickled herring and multiple shots of spiced beverages while singing loudly and gregariously.
Uniquely Swedish events, especially family ones like Midsummer, are part of HR’s toolbox when recruiting and retaining in-demand talent. Midsummer is something that Swedish HR wants to take time to discuss and offer to help expats experience during their first year. As Swedish HR, you are tending to the expat’s whole person/family not just the employee’s time 9-5 Monday through Friday.
We suggest you share with your expat key Midsummer basics:
- Midsummer celebrations in Sweden are second only to the festivities of Christmas.
- The Swedish Midsummer festival marks the longest day and shortest night of the year. It revels in the beauty and bounty of the summer months ahead.
- Preparations and parties will begin this year on Midsummer Eve the 22nd of June.
- Swedes will enjoy decorating themselves and their surroundings with flowers, dancing, singing, eating, and drinking all in honor of the the lighter and longer days ahead.
- Swedes eat a traditional meal, generally outside, and enjoy (yummy) dishes like: boiled potatoes, pickled herring, crispbreads, salads, boiled salmon and local spiced vodka.
This holiday is a must-experience for any newcomers in Sweden. (And there is almost no way to avoid it!)
photo courtesy of www.maxpixel.net
Tell Your Expat What Traditionally Happens During the Midsummer Holiday
At around 9:00am Swedes pick flowers and birch leaves to make wreaths to place on the maypole. Young girls and unmarried women are told to pick seven species of wild flowers and put them under their pillow for good luck to call in their future prince charming. On Midsummer day the maypole is decorated. Ladies decorate their hair with flowers. Hopefully, weather permitting, everyone enjoys a big lunch outside and then the maypole is raised around 5:30pm. More singing and dancing commences throughout the evening.
Suggest Where Your Expat Can Celebrate
Most Swedes would recommend that the ideal way to celebrate Midsummer in Sweden is to go to the countryside and stay with a Swedish family to enjoy the rich heritage of this holiday. But you will want to be clear that receiving an invitation to join a family is a special honor (especially for a newer expat who may not yet know their co-workers well) because this is a holiday traditionally celebrated with grandparents, neighbours and great grandparents.
If they would like to go out and explore on their own, you could recommend Dalarna. It is a popular place to go in central Sweden, has beautiful scenery to enjoy, and some great places to stay. You might suggest Tällbergsgårdens Hotell , near Lake Siljan, or nearby Klockargården Hotell
If they plan to stay in Stockholm with children, you might suggest that they visit and celebrate at Skansen, the world’s oldest open air museum. This is a wonderful place to go to learn about Sweden’s history and culture on any day and it is an especially wonderful place for families. http://www.skansen.se/sv/midsommar In general, Skansen is a great place to celebrate Swedish traditions during an expat’s first year.
Photo Credit: Udo Schröter
Another option is to celebrate for the weekend in the Archipeligo. You could help your expat research at stockholmarchipelago.se for more information.
Lastly, you could encourage your expat and their family to keep their eyes on https://www.visitstockholm.com/ for great ideas for things to do in and around the city.
Here is a fun video your new transfer might enjoy about Swedish Midsummer.
Would you like some tips on welcoming your expat to your office? If so, download our checklist guide: