Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Midsummer mischief!

On Friday we celebrated midsummer here in Sweden. We don't really celebrate this in the UK so, like me, you are probably wondering why this is so celebrated here. I did some research and it turns out it that in the old days midsummer celebrations were held not only to welcome the summertime but also to celebrate the season of fertility!! There was also some reference to commemorating John the Baptist but that didn't sound as interesting! Now it's generally celebrated to signify the beginning of the summer holidays. Most people here take all of their 5 week annual leave in July rather than spreading it over the year so basically everything shuts down for a month! I don't think I could go 11 months without a week off but its a way of life for most people here! To be honest I think the main reason midsummer is celebrated is because summers here are so bloody short and people want to celebrate the little time they have in the sun!! Summer here starts showing its face around May then it gets quite hot by July but by September its cold again!. The good thing about summer here is that you have daylight until about midnight!....................although in the winter is begins to get dark around 2pm!!

A traditional midsummer celebration involves lots of eating, drinking and dancing around a maypole. The nearest maypole to us was in a local park so Aicha and I wandered round to see what was going on. There were lots of people there having picnics but there wasn't much happening in the way of entertainment. There was a guy singing some songs but he was no Lionel Richie! It was definitely a family occasion and we got quite bored so we decided to leave after a while. I did take a few pictures though................

The maypole
Once we got back home it was time for the traditional midsummer feast. A typical midsummer menu features different kinds of pickled herring, boiled potatoes with fresh dil, grilled salmon and vegetables followed by strawberries and cream. Aicha' parents cooked the full works so I was pretty stuffed once we had finished! The traditional accompaniment is a cold beer or schnapps. Unfortunately we had no schnapps so I had to make do with a cold beer................oh well!!

This was my first experience of midsummer. Although we spent most of it basically just eating and
drinking, there is actually a lot more to it than that. Rather than me just telling you in words the traditions of midsummer I thought it best to show you. Therefore, may I present...............'Swedish Midsummer for Dummies'!!!!

On the Saturday we had arranged to meet some of Aicha's old school friends and their partners for a barbeque however the heavens had opened and we had to move our dinner party indoors. Of everyone going I had only previously met Aicha's friend Jessica who was the host. It can sometimes be quite daunting going to a dinner party when everybody knows each other and you don't really know anyone but I was really looking forward to it as it would allow me to get to know a few more people.

Everyone I met there was great and I managed to get on with everybody really well. We had a few beers and a real good laugh although it turned out that I wasn't the only one there who didn't know anyone. Aicha's friend Sanaz bought her boyfriend Alesandro who none of the girls or their partners had met before. They had previous met each other whilst working in Australia and like me he has now made the move to Stockholm. He was a really good guy and once we got talking about football we couldn't shut up! Alesandro as you have probably guessed is Italian so our discussion largely involved the Euro 2012 quarter final game between Italy and England the following day!! Everyone I met that evening was really nice and hope we can all do it again sometime.

At the end of the evening I swapped numbers with Alesandro after pitching the idea of us watching the game together on the big screen in the city centre. Unfortunately the weather let us down again so he and Sanaz invited us over to their place to watch it instead. The journey to their place from ours takes around 45 minutes and as the game kicked off at 8:45pm our time I was hoping that it wouldn't go to extra time.................or worst penalties! I was looking forward to having some banter during the game with Alesandro but once the game started I was a nervous wreck! I definitely have a love/hate relationship with football when it comes to England. I look forward to the big games so much but when I watch them I can never really enjoy it!! I seem to enjoy it more afterwards once I know what the result is!! England struggled through the game as usual, with the occasion tease of a goal scoring opportunity but the game really belonged to Italy. As expected we went out on penalties but I thought we rode our luck to get that far!! If we had won on penalties then it would have been a serious miscarriage of justice!! To be fair to our boys they ran themselves into the ground and I don't think they could have given much more. We are just not technically gifted enough to compete in the major tournaments.........................and seeing as we would have faced one of the best Germany teams in years if we won, I think we bowed out at the right time!!

With the disappointment of Englands early exit behind me, it was time to turn my attention back to work. Tomorrow is Wednesday and I am flying to Copenhagen to meet with Danish sales team. I'm really looking forward to meeting the guys but unfortunately it's only a quick visit. We are flying back the same day so I won't be able to see much of the city. Next time I might plan to visit on a Friday so I can stay the weekend!! Time to start playing those cards right.............!!

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog Bob! Have to correct you on the 5 weeks holiday though..haha! Where on earth did you get that idea that Swedes take all their holiday in july from? Haaha! I think we take between 2-3 weeks in the summer and then 2-3 weeks sprad out over autumn/winter. But you're right about one thing though.. it becomes much more quieter business wise in july/august, but that's because many are on holidays.. not necessarilay for 5 weeks or at the same time though. Bless you! x