7 Facts About Sweden's Midsummer Celebration

Andreas Modess, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Andreas Modess, iStock / Getty Images Plus

Horror fans are anticipating July 3’s release of Midsommar, a creepy thriller in which two American tourists (Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor) experience the little-seen traditions of Sweden’s Midsummer Festival. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Ari Aster called the movie's Midsummer “a particularly special iteration of the festival,” and the film certainly takes liberties with the real experience, which is far from terrifying. Take a look at how locals actually celebrate this annual gathering and why it’s become a such a treasured part of Swedish culture.

1. Midsummer started as a way to welcome summer (and maybe fertility).

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Sweden has been celebrating Midsummer (midsommar in Swedish) for centuries. The event, which is typically held on the Friday after the summer solstice, is intended to recognize the beginning of the country’s summer and its five-week annual holiday, including a stretch of time where, in the northern part of the country, the sun never actually sets. Most Swedish cities have their own Midsummer event, and many are marked by dancing around a flower-covered maypole, which some have interpreted as a representation of fertility (however, others argue that no explicit connection has been found between the two).

2. During Midsummer, city streets can be empty.

Midsummer’s one concession to appearing spooky: Because celebrations take place in the countryside, most residents head out of town for the festivities beginning on Midsummer’s Eve, leaving their cities almost devoid of people. Businesses shut down and roads are cleared. That eerie serenity is broken as soon as you hit the main thoroughfares, which are typically congested with cars looking to get to the country.

3. Midsummer revelers pick flowers to find true love.

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During Midsummer, both men and women participate in a tradition: They pick seven different species of flowers and put them under their pillow. Legend has it that their future spouse will appear to them in a dream. Due to the romance of the festival, Sweden experiences quite the uptick in its population. According to CNN, many children are born exactly nine months following the celebration.

4. During Midsummer, the drink of choice is aquavit.

Traditionally, Midsummer revelers eat potatoes, pickled herring, and strawberries for lunch, and they typically imbibe on beer and aquavit, a spirit distilled from potatoes or grains and flavored with either caraway or dillseed. There’s no masking the taste, either. People usually drink it straight (though chasing it with a beer isn’t unheard of). Wine and other beverages are rare sights.

5. Some Midsummer attendees wear traditional clothing. 

Donald Judge, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Revelers in Sweden typically attend Midsummer parties in casual or garden party-type clothing. But some make an effort to wear the traditional folk dress, or folkdrekten, of their region. In Småland, women wear white lace blouses and ankle-length skirts; men wear blue vests and elk skin pants. Participants make their own flower crowns, or krans.

6. Midsummer has a classic song about frogs.

There is a significant amount of singing that goes into Midsummer. One traditional song is "Små Grodorna," or "Little Frogs." Partygoers sing the lyrics ("the little frogs … are funny to observe") while dancing around the maypole and pretending to hop around like amphibians. If you’re a tourist and are invited to join in, you probably should.

7. Even IKEA celebrates Midsummer.

Swedish furniture firm IKEA doesn’t let Midsummer go by unnoticed. Each year, stores will often lay out a Midsummer Smorgasbord for customers. The all-you-can-eat buffet runs $16.99 ($4.99 for kids) and features trademark Midsummer dishes like herring, potato salad, and fresh strawberries.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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6 Too-Cool Facts About Henry Winkler for His 75th Birthday

Getty Images
Getty Images

Henry Winkler thumbs-upped his way into America’s hearts as the Fonz in Happy Days more than 40 years ago, and he hasn’t been out of the spotlight since—whether it’s playing himself in an Adam Sandler movie, a hospital administrator with a weird obsession with butterflies in Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, the world's worst lawyer in Arrested Development, a pantomiming Captain Hook on the London stage, or the world's most lovable acting coach to a contract killer in Barry

1. Henry Winkler made up a Shakespeare monologue to get into the Yale School of Drama.

After graduating from Emerson College, Winkler applied to Yale University’s drama program. In his audition, he had to do two scenes, a modern and a classic comedy. However, when he arrived at his audition, he forgot the Shakespeare monologue he had planned to recite. So he made something up on the spot. He was still selected for one of 25 spots in the program. 

2. HENRY WINKLER’S FATHER INSPIRED “JUMPING THE SHARK.”

CBS

In the fifth season of Happy Days, the Fonz grabbed a pair of water skis and jumped over a shark. The phrase “jumping the shark” would become pop culture shorthand for the desperate gimmicks employed by TV writers to keep viewers hooked into a show that’s running out of storylines. But Winkler’s water skiing adventure was partially inspired by his father, who begged his son to tell his co-workers about his past as a water ski instructor. When he did, the writers wrote his skills into the show. Winkler would later reference the moment in his role as lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on Arrested Development, hopping over a dead shark lying on a pier.  

3. Henry Winkler is an advocate for dyslexia awareness. 

Winkler struggled throughout high school due to undiagnosed dyslexia. “I didn't read a book until I was 31 years old when I was diagnosed with dyslexia,” he told The Guardian in 2014. He has co-written several chapter books for kids featuring Hank Zipper, a character who has dyslexia. In 2015, a Hank Zipper book is printed in Dyslexie, a special font designed to be easier for kids with dyslexia to read. 

4. Henry Winkler didn't get to ride Fonzie's motorcycle.

On one of his first days on the set of Happy Days, producers told Winkler that he just had to ride the Fonz’s motorcycle a few feet. Because of his dyslexia, he couldn’t figure out the vehicle’s controls, he told an interviewer with the Archive of American Television. “I gunned it and rammed into the sound truck, nearly killed the director of photography, put the bike down, and slid under the truck,” he recalled. For the next 10 years, whenever he appeared on the motorcycle, the bike was actually sitting on top of a wheeled platform. 

5. Henry Winkler has performed with MGMT. 

In addition to his roles on BarryArrested Development, Royal Pains, Parks and Recreation, and more, Winkler has popped up in a few unexpected places in recent years. He appeared for a brief second in the music video for MGMT’s “Your Life Is a Lie” in 2013. He later showed up at a Los Angeles music festival to play the cowbell with the band, too.

6. Henry Winkler won his first Emmy at the age of 72.

The seventh time was a charm for Henry Winkler. In 2018, at the age of 72—though just shy of his 73rd birthday—Winkler won an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as acting teacher Gene Cousineau on Barry. It was the seventh time Winkler had been nominated for an Emmy. His first nomination came in 1976 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Happy Days (he earned an Emmy nod in the same category for Happy Days in 1977 and 1978 as well.

This story has been updated for 2020.