Scandinavians Celebrate 81st Annual Midsummer Festival

IKEA Portland is the sponsor of the 2009 Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

IKEA Portland is the sponsor of the 2009 Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

Scandinavians celebrate the 81st Annual Midsummer Festival in Portland, Oregon

Scandinavians have a long tradition of celebrating the Summer Solstice with bonfires or raising of the Maypole (Majstång pole). Here in Portland that tradition is being celebrated for the 81st continuous years at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival.

Midsummer in Scandinavia’s northern climate is the biggest coming out celebration of the year and everyone is invited. At Portland’s Scandinavian Midsummer Festival, sponsored by IKEA of Portland, it is a celebration of warmer days, fertile fields and longer days with games, dancing, food, Scandinavian crafts and of course the raising of the Maypole.

However, Scandinavian roots are not required to celebrate at this summer solstice festival. As all people of Nordic descent know, it’s always a fun, family friendly and important day with century old traditions.

Scandinavians in traditional dress will greet hundreds of visitors beginning at 11 a.m.. Food and crafts are available from local Scandinavian clubs and vendors. Two stages of entertainment and a beer garden promise continuous entertainment with live music and dancing, all with a Scandinavian flavor. The Maypole will be raised at 1 p.m. and the Scandinavian of the Year award will be given during that festive event.

The festival concludes with folk dancing, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m, with music by Fossegrimen of Eugene.

Kids Zone, a family-friendly space

For the children the highlight of the day is taking part in decorating and raising the maypole. Adults and children alike dance around the pole together and sing traditional songs like “Sm Grodorna är lustiga att se” (Little Frogs are funny to watch). As is the custom around a few large holidays, the children will make and wear flower wreaths which are worn by both women and children. Long ago it was believed that everything that grew contained special magic powers. This belief lives on in the tradition to collect flowers before going to bed on Midsummer night. Young girls pick seve to nine flowers from different locations in silence. Some even say you have to jump seven fences. Still in silence you go home and put your flowers underneath your pillow. The legend says that you will dream of the man you will marry!

For this 81st annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in metropolitan Portland, the League of Swedish Societies is joined by the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation (SHF), with its large membership representing the five Nordic countries — Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

The Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is an important cultural event for the entire Portland community regardless of heritage. It is one of the many ways SHF and the League of Swedish Societies, along with the regional Scandinavian community, demonstrate and preserve their Nordic heritage. 

The event, made possible by Scandinavian Heritage Foundation & League of Swedish Societies, will take place on Saturday, June 27 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission: $5 adults/ $3 children 6 – 12.

For more information, visit www.scanheritage.org.

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