Midsummer celebrations abound in Swedish-American communities, and Minnesota has many. Gammelgården Museum, near the Twin Cities, draws guests from surrounding towns and even from Sweden — many Swedes are abroad during this special time of year, and they seek out celebrations like this one, which is similar to what they are accustomed to in their home provinces.

On Saturday, June 25, planners and volunteers at Gammelgården were on the job taking care of last-minute tasks and involving guests in learning activities such as Kubb, cow-milking, weaving, and making flower wreaths.
The Midsummer pole takes some time to decorate, and this became the job for Ross and Marta Nelson. They put finishing touches on it, and then quickly dashed home to pick up musical instruments so they could provide a gånglåt, or walking tune, for the parade that ended at center stage by the majstång.


An outdoor market place was nestled under the tree canopy, where vendors and artisans displayed and sold their wares: wood carving, silver work, embroidered hanging pocket purses and fudge sauce, to name a few. Volunteers served coffee and korv at the food kiosk. Inside the museum, the butik had an array of Nordic books, textiles, gift items, candies, candles and sweaters, which were too hot for this particular day, but in the air-conditioned building one could begin to think about wearing an elegant Norwegian sweater come winter.

The program began after lunch. There were greetings and welcome speeches, and both the Swedish and American flags were added to the stage. The pole went up ceremoniously with the help of some strong Swedes from the audience. Then the song games commenced. They were done in Swedish and English, and also bilingually. For two-thirds of the audience, it was only their first, second, or third time participating in the Swedish favorites: ”Små grodorna,” “Karusellen,” “We are all mother’s little piglets” and a Swedish-American game called “Vi kan dansa Labadu.” The song games came to a conclusion with the Svenskarnasdag Girls’ Choir from the Twin Cities, who, with a packed agenda, was already performing their second gig for the day.

Folks departed for home, with another dose of Swedish traditions in their lives, enough to hold them over until the next event, perhaps at Gammelgården Museum, which has many programs for youth and adults. www.gammelgardenmuseum.org

Text and photos by V. S. Arrowsmith