Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Welcoming summer at the Scandinavian Midsommar celebration in Northfield June 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:38 PM
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A sign welcomes visitors to the annual Scandinavian Midsommar celebration at Way Park on Northfield’s west side. The event has been going on here for about 20 years, following the Scandinavian tradition of celebrating the end of a long winter and the beginning of summer, typically on the day of the summer solstice.

THE SCANDINAVIANS (and non-Scandinavians) of Northfield (and elsewhere) welcomed summer to this southeastern Minnesota city with music and dance, games and picnic dinners on a perfect Sunday summer evening in Way Park.

Being 100 percent German and all, I’d never witnessed the tradition of celebrating the summer solstice.

Perhaps you haven’t either.

So join me for the festivities via this photo essay. Feel the hint of a summer breeze. Listen to the music singing from violins and accordions. Weave wisps of willows into wreaths accented by blossoms of daisies and clover, bee balm and coral bells.

Bite into a slice of juicy watermelon or a traditional Scandinavian open-faced sandwich.

Feel the anticipation of young and old alike as they line up to parade around the park, up and down the steps to cluster around the maypole.

Pick up your feet and dance. Dance away the memories of winter as you welcome summer.

The Midsommar parade, led by musicians, begins around the north end of Way Park.

Dancing around the maypole with a sun ball, from an earlier game, resting nearby.

For those who didn’t know the dances, instructions were printed on poster board.

Those who can no longer dance simply watched and enjoyed.

Before the dancing, the musicians gathered under shade trees to entertain the crowd that dined and made wreaths, visited…

Eleanor Croone, left, and her husband, Al, brought a picnic lunch and spread it out on an authentic Swedish tablecloth accented by a daisy bouquet. They are, says, Al, 127 percent Swedish. The Swedes, he says, just pull off the road for picnics. Eleanor has an authentic Swedish costume but, since it’s made of wool, can’t wear it on a warm summer evening.

Ten-year-old Bella weaves a wreath for her head with willows and flowers.

Adults and kids try to keep “the sun” in the sky as they celebrate the summer solstice, several days after the fact.

CHECK BACK for more photos of the annual Scandinavian Midsommar celebration in Northfield.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling