In Focus: Midsommar Festival Celebrates Swedish Heritage
It’s a celebration of the summer solstice, also known as the longest day of the year, and it happens annually around mid-June.
“In Sweden it’s a really a big celebration. I understand they have huge bonfires at night they stay up all night, near the solstice. It’s a time – probably goes way, way back to pagan times really, but celebrating spring, celebrating light and enjoying beautiful outdoors, good food and good friends,” Sharon Fruetel, an American Swedish Institute Member said.
There’s a good amount of people in Bemidji with Swedish heritage who are interested in their Swedish culture.
“To remember our heritage and to continue to celebrate like our ancestors did and enjoy summer,” Bemidji American Swedish Institute Swedish Group President Allen Paulson said.
The event started with a potluck of traditional Swedish dishes along with traditional music, followed by a parade. Then, the maypole is placed on the ground for people to dance around it.
For many people, Midsommer is a celebration of the summer season, and for others, it’s about holding on to a culture.
“It’s the comradery, it’s getting dressed in our native costumes and upholding some of the traditions like making the crowns,” Fruetel said. “The girls or women make flower crowns from fresh flowers in Sweden, and so it’s a long-standing tradition.”
The festival began in Bemidji to honor the Swedish heritage, and to celebrate and to keep the tradition alive.
“I was really raised in all the Swedish customs, so I do come to this all the time because I enjoy it,” Inger Benson, a Bemidji Affiliate American Swedish Institute Member said. “We did all this dancing and fun food when we were kids and what is nice is that our kids are learning the culture and the dances and enjoying the same things that we have been able to enjoy.”
This year marks the 44th annual Midsommer Festival, and members of the American Swedish Institute in Bemidji say that the celebration will continue on next year.