The Midsummer night in the Swedish Northlands is so bright you can sit outside and read a book. We want to be one with nature around the solstice and please, or communicate with, the spirits. (Photo: Kenny Åström, Getty Images)

In case I haven’t said this loud enough, or enough times, I grew up in the north of Sweden where Midsummer is one of our three most important holidays (yule and easter being the other two). Of the three, Midsummer is the one that’s surrounded by magic and rituals. Not saying there are none for the other two, but there are nowhere near as many.

You probably know that Midsummer is connected to the summer solstice, and back in the day we celebrated on the solstice day. But the Swedes, being pragmatists who like to keep things in neat little boxes, decided it was a sodding nuisance to have people skiving off work to pick flowers, make babies and get drunk in the middle of a working week. A plan was put in place and since 1953, Midsummer’s Day is always on a Saturday between the 20th and the 26th of June. But the big day for most of us is Midsommarafton. The Friday. And that is, of course, why I held back a day on despatching the Ship’s Log this week. So we could experience it together.

The magic of Midsummer lies partly in tradition and an understanding of how close we used to be to nature. How much we once depended on a good summer season for the harvest that would keep our families alive through the long, dark winter. But it wasn’t just the the harvest that was at stake. Fishing, foraging, hunting, and the fattening of farm animals before the slaughter were all relatively weather dependent activities.

In the north, there’s a relatively short window between the time the frost leaves the ground in the spring so you can work the land and the summer solstice. At this time, nature is at its most fertile and if you hold to the old ways, you may believe that this heightened state of fertility can rub off on humans too. Generally speaking, this is the time to get your seeds in the soil. Any later and you won’t be eating very well come winter. See where this is going?

At Midsummer we celebrate life, birth, rebirth and fertility, and we do what we can to help nature do its thing. This is where the rituals come in.

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year in our neck of the woods, aka the Northern Hemisphere. Celebrating it is not a uniquely Scandi thing – people across the globe believe in the the power of the Sun and the magic of the Moon (night). We are many who observe the solstice and the changing seasons.

If you think about it, we all have ancient traditions ingrained in us, but we may have different takes on them. Different ideas regarding their nature and meaning. Some, and this I find a little sad, take part in the celebrations, but have no idea where they came from or what they meant to our ancestors.

Now, for people who hold to pagan beliefs, the Midsummer magic is also related to the veil between the realms. At Midsummer, this veil is at its weakest, making it easier to communicate with the spirits.

Magic, the domain of the troll, is especially potent at this time. All sorts of spells and rituals are more likely to succeed around the solstice. You may even be able to see some aspects of your future if you play your cards right.

But how do we actually celebrate?


a blue ship's door with the sign "LINNEA LUCIFER"
author bio

Linnea Lucifer is the Captain of the imaginary, yet very real, pirate ship Resilience and her merry crew of indie authors and omnivorous readers. But that is not all – amateur liar, weaver of stories, peddler of merch, lifelong spoonie, ancient dragon lady and Maddox Rhinehart’s irreverent pet are a few more words often used to describe the bearer of many names.

The Captain was named after a delicate little flower that grows in mossy, Swedish pine forests, and a certain fiery fallen angel. She spends most of her days daydreaming and writing fantasy, smut and painfully crappy poems. A diva of delight, she takes great pleasure in everything that tickles the senses and adds a sprinkle of magic and spice to our world.

Linnea writes fantasy rooted in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore under the pen name Saga Linnea Söderberg. She also writes Sweet’n’Spicy Spoonie romance together with Leto Armitage under their joint pen name Linn Rhinehart.


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