Throw this party: A Midsummer night’s shindig

Guest post by Dootsie Bug

Fairy wings, donkey ears, and floral wreath optional. (Photo by: Rennett StoweCC BY 2.0)
In the Northern Hemisphere, we’re nearing the summer solstice. Balmy nights, cheerful crickets and dewy grass beg us to head outside and celebrate the season.

Midsummer has its roots in Northern European cultures, though it’s celebrated all over the world in some form or another, whether as a religious or secular holiday time. Some of the celebrations happen on the date of the actual summer solstice while others fall anywhere between June 19 and June 26.

Want to host a Midsummer celebration? Here are some tips:

First, extend the invitation

Make clear to your guests that fairy wings and donkey ears, while welcomed, will be strictly optional. I suggest having everyone over after the heat of the day has passed, around six or seven in the evening. Let guests know what time you’re planning on wrapping up, as well, and if they’re welcome to camp out.

The interior? Fuggedaboudit.

Assuming that the weather is nice, your guests shouldn’t need to be inside for too long. This is a great thing in terms of how much inside prep you need to do. Consider it a porch party. Clean the bathroom and kitchen, but forget the rest and keep guests outdoors.

Bonfire and lights

If you can burn something, do it! The bonfire is the oldest symbol of this holiday, a brilliant reminder of the sun’s power. Brush up on your town or neighborhood’s rules for fires, and be aware of any burn bans that may be in effect. If a fire isn’t possible, (carefully!) simulate the effect with candles, torches or fairy lights.

Feast, feast, feast

Like any celebration worth its salt, Midsummer is traditionally celebrated with shared food. Some traditionalish foods you might like to include on your menu:

  • summer berries with whipped cream
  • pickled or salted herring
  • new potatoes with sour cream dressing
  • boiled eggs
  • cheese pie
  • breads
  • Swedish meatballs
  • honey;
  • and Strawberry shortcake.

Of course, being a summer fête, you could also just go with your usual grill fare.


Some countries erect a Maypole to celebrate Midsummer. It’s a fun way to interact with guests! Attach long ribbon, cord or vines to the top of the pole and invite guests to dance and spin around, wrapping the line around the pole as they go.

Make a flower crown

Whether you use real or faux, making a flower crown not only offers you an earthy vibe, but it’s also a traditional way to celebrate summer’s beautiful blooms. Set out supplies for guests and have a DIY flower crowning party.

Music and dancing, of course

Play a little music (at a respectful level for your neighborhood) and invite guests to dance, laugh and sing along. If your guests need a little coaxing, host a hula-hoop contest, pass around bottles of bubbles or break out the Maypole again.

How do YOU celebrate Midsummer?

Comments on Throw this party: A Midsummer night’s shindig

  1. In Québec, our national holiday is june 24, called the Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Everywhere in the province people lights up fireworks and have huge bonfires. In the cities, major festivities are organized in parks. It’s not always fun since people can get heavily drunk. They end up building huge fires out of public bench and the McDonald’s windows always ends up vandalized. :/ Hehe. Apart from that, Saint-Jean is always a blast. 🙂

    • I’ve got to say, this sounds very similar to an explanation I gave of Victoria Day to some Americans back in May. “Yeah, we have a holiday this weekend. Something about Queen Victoria’s birthday, but mostly it’s just a good reason to get drunk.”

      Canadian holidays are fun.

      • Hmm – we always came to march in the Victoria Day parade in Victoria ( oddly enough, a big deal for American marching bands) – never knew there was more to it than that, ha ha. 😉

        • I never even knew there was a Victoria Day parade, since my family has always considered it the official “Open the Cottage for the season!” weekend. But the un-official name for Victoria Day is “May 2-4” as in “The May 2-4 weekend” or “A 2-4 of beer”. And then you go get a 24 case of beer and some friends to drink it with and you have the holiday.

      • I feel like the people who celebrate saint-jean are not so likely to also be celebrating Canada day… but correct me if I’m wrong! And I’m sure some people take any excuse for a party…

        • Many of us take the opportunity to celebrate French-Canadian culture and then All-inclusive Canadian culture. Strangely, both cultures heartily embrace beer, so I feel that any differences between the Anglos and Francos may be overcome. Drunkenly.

        • Francophones outside of Québec also celebrate la St-Jean! We (francophones outside of Québec) consider it the celebration of francophones. And people in Québec consider it their “national” holiday. So, as you can imagine, it’s a bit of tense topic for many francophones outside of Québec… =)

          Anglophones don’t really celebrate la Saint-Jean, though, and in Québec July 1st is usually a moving weekend.

  2. Today, the day after Midsummer, Sweden has come to a standstill. National Hangover Day.

    But yesterday… for once, it wasn’t raining. The ocean was warm enough to go for a swim. New potatoes, salad, cheese, strawberries, elderberryflower lemonade… And a BBQ at night. And snaps!

  3. Um, you just described EXACTLY what my friends and I did every year in high school. We all dressed up fairy-ish (or similarly fantastical creatures), danced around a maypole, listened to fairy-ish music (think the newest peter pan soundtrack, or hobbit songs), and had a wonderful tea party with scones and jams and such. It is ridiculously fun, guys – try it!

  4. In the eastern coast of Spain (mainly) we also celebrate on the 24th, as in Quebec! The reason is the same Saint (San Juan), and there are usually bonfires at the beach. The idea is that you write the things you don’t like down on a piece of paper, you throw the paper to the fire, and then you jump over the bonfire to show that you can overcome them.

    People also get very drunk, and in Valencia they have this cocktail that goes nicely with any celebration: 1/2 sparkling wine (cava), 1/2 orange juice. Pour a gulp of any other liquor of your choice for good measure. Cheers!

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