Midsummer comes to Swedesburg
SWEDESBURG — Swedes descended upon Swedesburg last night for the community’s annual Midsummer in Swedesburg celebration, hosted at the community’s parish hall.
Sponsored by the Swedish Heritage Society, the event takes descendants of Swedish immigrants back to their native land. In the summertime, the sun never sets in the northern part of Sweden. In other areas of the country, it never gets any darker than twilight. Midsommar (as it is spelled in Sweden) is traditionally observed on the longest day of the year, with most celebrations taking place on the weekend closest to the first day of summer.
Each year, one Swedish family is honored during Midsummer in Swedesburg. This year it was the descendants of August and Maria Anderson. The Andersons immigrated from Malmback, Sweden. August came in 1868 and Maria in 1884.
The couple had one child, Carl Edwin, who died in 1985. Two of the three grandchildren (one grandson is deceased) — Arvid Anderson and Vicky Bergstrom — attended and presented some family history
Highlighting the midsummer celebration is the majstang, or Midsommar pole. There are various regional methods of decorating the pole with birch and spruce branches, native flowers and ribbons. After the majstang is raised into place, participants of all ages join hands and dance around the pole to traditional Swedish folksongs.
Herring, new potatoes, strawberries, schnapps and beer are the mainstays of a typical Midsommar buffet. Herring is a necessity in Sweden because if there is no herring, it’s not a real Midsommar. In Swedesburg, the celebration is capped with ice cream and strawberries.
In Swden following the circle dances around the majstang, a large cake, almost always a strawberry cake or strawberries, are served.
Strawberries are the first berries which ripen across the land during the cool Swedish summer and are eaten as they are. Sometimes, they are dipped into sugar or served with ice cream.
Entertainment for Midsummer in Swedesburg was provided by the Scandinavian Saxophone Quartet. The quartet features every type of saxophone — soprano, alto, tenor and baritone. Three of the members are from Sweden and the soprano saxophone player is from Norway. All are or were students at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden.