A woman musician playing by the Maypole during MIdsummer festivities at Rönninge by in Täby.
Midsummer's Eve celebration is one of the biggest festivities in Sweden with roots in pagan times and is seen as a festival for the whole family. It occurs on a Friday between 19 and 25 of June. Earlier it was always celebrated on the day of the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) which occurs on the 20th or 21st of June.
Raising and dancing around a maypole is the main attraction. Before the maypole is raised, greens and flowers are collected and used to cover the entire pole. People dance around the pole, listen to traditional music and sing songs. Some participants wear traditional folk costumes, which vary from one local comminity to another. Many women and some men wear crowns made of wildflowers on their heads. The year's first potatoes and the first strawberries are served at parties. Drinking songs (Snapsvisor) are also important at this feast, and many drink heavily.
After the dance around the Maypole, there is also ordinary dancing outdooors or inside barns. In the archipelagos and by lakes it is common to arrange dancing on jetties.
Because summer solstice was thought to be one of the times of the year when magic was strongest, it was considered a good night to perform rituals to look into the future. Traditionally girls and women pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse. In the past it was believed that herbs picked at Midsummer were highly potent, and water from springs could bring good health.