Scandinavians celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, with a festival of light, flowers, food, and music. The Consulate General of Sweden organizes an annual festival in Battery Park, Manhattan. Thousands of people gather to sing, dance around a massive maypole, eat Scandinavian foods and just have a good time. Many women wear flower wreaths on their heads, and some people dress in traditional folk costume.
The summer solstice celebration has its roots in pre-Christian practices and belief that the spirits of nature join the human community to rejoice in the long days of summer. Midsummer was originally a fertility festival with many customs and rituals associated with nature and with the hope for a good harvest in autumn.
Today in Scandinavia midsummer is a time to escape to the country to spend relaxing time in nature – a time to connect with friends and family and exuberantly celebrate the joys of life.