Midsummer Celebration, Stockholm, Sweden, 1970
Midsummer takes place in June and is a celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It is one of the most celebrated holidays in Sweden with offices and many shops closed.
How much of Midsommar (movie) is real tradition?
The main idea is about the same as the movie: it’s held on the summer solstice in celebration of the longest day of the year and originated as a pagan fertility festival.
Some of the things and events in the movie are taken from real Midsommar celebrations – for example the flower crowns and dancing around the maypole (a phallic object meant to bring fertility to the ground for a good harvest.
It’s not nearly as ritualised as it is in the movie, however, and nowadays it’s mostly an excuse to get together and get incredibly drunk off snaps.
No elderly people throw themselves off a cliff (this was allegedly a thing during the Viking age, but there’s no real proof it ever happened) – and the part where the girls dance around the maypole until they can’t anymore is taken from Hårgalåten, a story told in Sweden with its own song about the devil coming to the village of Hårga and possessing the people in the village to dance until they drop dead.
Finally, the concept of the May Queen isn’t part of Swedish midsummer celebrations, but rather historical May Day celebrations.