Most cultures have their pagan legacies, and in Sweden it’s Midsummer. This, the biggest celebration of the year, dates back to the Middle Ages and is a paean to light, marking the start of the brief but glorious summer.
In these northern latitudes townsfolk and villagers erect vine-covered maypoles with a cross and two hoops. Revellers, garlanded with braided krans of wild flowers on their heads, dance bewildering routines around these midsommerstångs like woodland nymphs, singing songs with romantic innuendos to evoke fertility and prosperity for the coming year.
I arrived in Sweden’s second city shortly before midnight in late June. The sun’s faint glow was still illuminating a salmon-coloured sky that gave the cityscape a chromatic profundity. In the Haga district, where wooden houses nestle along cobbled streets, midsummer revellers with their floral chaplets crowded the gentrified bars quaffing aquavit or local brews such
as Ocean Bryggeriet.
You can read more about Gary’s cruise in the latest edition of World of Cruising magazine. (Photographs, Gordon Bain)