In northern European countries, where the winters are very long, very cold and very dark, the much-anticipated arrival of summer is definitely something to celebrate. The festival commemorating such an arrival is aptly titled, Midsummer. It’s celebrated on or near the solstice (the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere), which usually falls on June 21st. Depending on cultures and calendars, however, the date for midsummer festivals varies, and can come as late as June 25th.
In Scandinavia, Midsummer is so revered it’s nearly as anticipated as Christmas or New Year.
Often thought of as a food-and-drink holiday, it’s traditional to eat foods that honor new life: new potatoes and the year’s first strawberries are consumed, and herbs are thought to be at their most flavorful and potent.
Other traditions include placing greenery swags over doorways to bring good fortune and health, staging mock-weddings, and young girls placing flowers under their pillows, thus ensuring dreams of their future spouse.
Another charming tradition is the making and wearing of floral head-wreaths. They’re pretty, and unmistakably festive. Grown women and girls alike wear them, and they are easy to make.
Measure out enough wire to fit around your head, then add 2″ and cut.
Form that length of wire into a circle.
Using the last 1” of each end, twist together to secure.
Choose flowers, cut stems to 3″ to 4″ lengths.
To make the wreath you’ll start at the front of the wire circle (the part farthest away from the twisted ends), and add flowers to one half of the circle, working your way to the back. When that half is done, you’ll return to the front and repeat the process on the remaining half.
Beginning at the front, hold flower parallel to the wire and wrap with floral tape. Start near the blossom, and spiral the tape tightly around both stem and wire until the entire length of the stem is fully wrapped around the wire.
Lay on the next flower, overlapping stems and wrap with floral tape as before. Continue overlapping flowers and wrapping stems with tape toward the back of the wire where the ends are twisted together.
Once the first half is complete, return to the front, and repeat the process overlapping stems and wrapping with tape on the remaining half until the wire circle is covered with blossoms.
Once all flowers are in place, you may need to add more tape to make everything more secure.
Cut ribbon to 72″ long, use a half-hitch knot to attach at the center-back of the ring, or tie in a bow.
For a full wreath, you’ll use 15 to 25 flowers, depending on size. If your desired wreath has flowers that just cover the front, use the floral tape to cover all the bare wire for a finished look.
Faux flowers are hardier, and a bit easier to work with. Real blooms can break and lose petals as you work with them, so treat them with care. For the best of both worlds, create the base of your wreath with faux greens and light filler flowers, then add real rosebuds or other less-fragile flowers to add scent and a more natural look.
Parts of Scandinavia are called The Land of the Midnight Sun, because on these long summer days, the sun never sets! When I was there as an exchange student, we would go out in the evenings and tell my Norwegian mother, “We’ll be home by dark!”
Enjoy this welcoming of the summer sun, and happy Midsummer!