Midsummer in Carson, California
Margaretha Laseen, Chair person of SWEA Los Angeles and Birgitta Lauren along with photographing Kerstin Alm were among the many SWEA members to help recognize Swedish Midsummer at IKEA Carson

It takes a story for the mainstream American to really embrace the Swedish traditions around Midsummer - be it flower wreaths, the dancing in folk costumes or the specialty food items, with cheeses from different districts, the herring, Kalles Kaviar, knäckebröd, or the easy dessert of a Swedish Dajmtårta to follow after the traditional midsummer buffet - and no one could tell the story better than members of SWEA, the Swedish Women's Educational Association.
Local members all over the U.S. are assisting local IKEA stores in spreading the word of how to combine items for a proper Midsummer celebration. These photos are from the celebration at IKEA Carson, Los Angeles, Cal.. Photographed by Kerstin Alm.

How to make the perfect Midsummer wreath
It’s Midsummer and you really should wear some flowers in your hair. The cheapest – and most fun – way to do one is to pick your own flowers, and not rely on the florist’s. In most Swedish families, that is also the tradition. Flowers that are perfect to use are: cornflower, daisies, and clover – they all have soft stems that are easy to work with. For beginners the best way to create a midsummer wreath is to use birch twigs. First, you gather all the flowers and the birch twigs you need. Measure around your head, the wreath has to be slightly longer than the measurement. Braid the birch twigs, as you would hair. Whenever the twigs are getting too small, you simply add new twigs a bit further up in the braid. When you have braided enough to fit your head, stick in the ends into the beginnings of the braid, forming a wreath. You might have to spend some time fiddling with small twigs sticking out here and there, also prune the braid and get rid of unsightly twigs. Decorate your wreath with your flowers, use a strong thread for this to make sure the flowers don’t fall off when you dance! And also, don’t forget to save some of the flowers to put under your pillow: Midsummer Eve is when you will dream about your future spouse, but only if you sleep on top of seven (or nine) hand picked flowers. It won’t work otherwise.

More info on Svensk Midsommar - Swedish Midsummer; the why, how, what and when... see http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/traditions/2412/
For more info on the chain of furniture stores IKEA, where you can pick up many of the needed items, see www.ikea.com or, for directions to the store in Carson:
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/store/carson

SWEA Facts:
The idea for SWEA came during the 1970s when Agneta Nilsson was arranging a Swedish Christmas Fair in Los Angeles and realized a lot of Swedish women there wanted to get together. The first SWEA chapter was born in California in 1979. SWEA supports projects with Swedish connections and education through scholarships (the Swedish program at Columbia University, New York, for instance is partly sponsored by SWEA). The sum of donations and scholarships from last year was $155,000 (excluding the three international scholarships which are $10,000 each). SWEA’s international network is becoming a more important resource for Swedish business abroad.
More info, see www.swea.org or see our earlier story recognizing the organization's 30th anniversary: http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/organizations/1238/