As we started our journey northward out of Stockholm, the rain was falling hard and the traffic was very slow. Soon the traffic lightened up and the sun started peeking through the clouds. It was still cold but we were ready for a relaxing weekend outdoors.
We were on our way to Tällberg in the Dalarna region of Sweden on Lake Siljan to celebrate Midsommar. Midsommar in Sweden is a celebration of the summer solstice, start of the summer holidays and even a fertility rite all rolled into one. It is typically celebrated in the countryside.
Our hotel was nestled into a little village of inns on a wonderful property and had lots of traditional activities planned for the holiday weekend. There were demonstrations and shops with handmade goods on the property too. (I bought a pair of long fingerless handknit gloves and super comfy sheepskin booties.)
At the hotel, the girls could finally run free! There were few cars and no logistics to worry about. As our lives get busier especially with Miss H around, we are really trying to build more relax time into our vacations.
The most fun of all the activities planned by the hotel was the maypole raising. The original significance of this custom is debated, but one theory says it is a pagan fertility ritual. It is one in which the women are in charge. Ha…of course they are!
Miss H and I ‘helped’ but really left the real work to the experts. It is quite a complex process with something like a giant fork prying up the maypole while slowly dropping the props on the side as it gets higher and higher. After the maypole was up, everyone joined in the traditional dance where everyone hopped around the pole and sang the ‘frog song’.
Our girls had lost interest at that point and were absolutely dying to go back to the playground. So we let them loose!
What a playground it was. Three wooden houses: a fully equipped bakery (minus oven), a house with real bunk beds and running water, and a tool shed. There were cars to ride (and to fix in the tool shed, according to the girls) and a swing set. They played for hours while the adults relaxed with warming coffee, tea and some red wine.
The very best part of all was the traditional Swedish dress that our friend brought for both the girls.
I am glad that we could experience the Midsommar holiday in Sweden and see the old traditions. We will definitely go back to Sweden. Next time: either late summer or full winter and maybe just maybe only parents. I would certainly like to do some shopping in Stockholm (Polarn O. Pyret!) and have some nice long, relaxed meals.