There is nothing lovelier than long, light evenings, and in Sweden – where the endless sunny days around the solstice contrast with the darkness and sparkly fairy lights of their other favourite festival, Christmas – the locals make a point of celebrating Midsummer.
Traditionally they have celebrated on Midsummer’s Eve – 23rd June – but these days the fun tends to take place on the nearest Friday (22nd June this year) to fit in with work, and so everyone can head home to spend time with friends and family.
Summers can be short in Sweden and so they love to make the most of this magical time when the sun barely sets. Designer with a green soul Gudrun Sjödén is no exception. Sweden’s biggest fashion export after H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) her style philosophy is all about colour, stripes and pattern – to spread joy and add fun to your life. (That’s Not My Age blogger Alyson Walsh is a big fan of her blocked stripe, boxy jersey tops.)
Gudrun certainly practises what she preaches at her summer home in northern Archipelago, Stockholm. Her wooden cabin is situated on a small island with just a few houses (the only way to get there is by your own small boat) and its décor highlights her signature uplifting style. ‘This summer the Nordic meadow will meet graphical sixties flowers, Indian block printed rambling leaves and paradisiacal birds on my table with my ‘Daisy’ and ‘Titli’ home textiles,’ says Gudrun.
How to celebrate Midsummer the Swedish way
- Midsummer in Sweden is a celebration of the simple things that come with the season; the long light nights after winter, wild flowers studding the landscape, the company of family and friends and, of course, freshly harvested delicacies.
- For many Swedes Midsummer is a time to be outdoors around nature and traditionally we take at least one afternoon shower, breaking up the long alfresco lunch by the summerhouse. I tend to set the table outside my seaside cabin for a simple and summery feast.
- To decorate the Midsummer table, I love to play with textiles and hand-picked wild flowers; daisies, bluebells, cows parsley and my beloved poppies that constantly inspire new designs.
- In Scandinavian folklore you should venture out in the midsummer night alone, in silence, to pick seven different flowers to keep under your pillow in order to dream of your true love. I prefer to bring them to my drawing desk and let the colours and shapes inspire new textile prints! You will find a menu of Baltic herring, new potatoes with dill, sour cream and chives. And we cannot forget our wonderful small, ruby red summer strawberries! The imported ones you can get during the rest of the year never can compete with their sweetness.
- Like on most June evenings I might finish my meal with a coffee and a stroll to watch the sun go down and the moon set sail across the water on my summer island. Glad Midsommar as we say in Swedish!
Interview by Rosalind Lowe