June 25, 2021 — Academia tends to push the theory Swedish Midsummer celebrations developed in Germany in the Middle Ages — and that Midsummer hails from a Christian holiday for John the Baptist that originally took place on June 24 — an outrageous interpretation with only a grain of truth, a clear attempt to hijack yet another heathen rite of ancient Sweden.
But, of course, they rarely mention the well-established fact heathen rituals were almost always merged with Christian “holidays”. It is somewhat odd then that “midsommar” which is entirely heathen in its expression, appears to be one of few ancient, pagan celebrations to have survived and stood the test of time without being turned into a religious mix of this and that.
“It is likely a pole-like structure that looked not unlike a Saxon Irminsul had been present since time immemorial in Fennoscandia.”
Contemporary scholars — not seldom funded by tax money — view Midsummer as a “new” festivity that was not celebrated in heathen, pre-Christian times but introduced to Sweden only a couple of hundred years ago, as mentioned above. However, we are not quite sure how that conclusion was reached, as we are reasonably convinced our ancestors celebrated the summer solstice at least until the Bronze Age ended around 500 BCE — a time of turmoil which saw “Asatru” and Óðinn emerge, making ancient sun rituals less popular as the sun-centered “twin god belief system” was gradually replaced (such beliefs can be sensed from twin deities include Árvakr and Alsviðr — a pair of Norse horses pulling the sun across the sky.)
Some historians have suggested the iconic midsommarstång, which is at the center of the festivities in Sweden, originated in Germany in the late 1600s. We beg to differ — it is far more likely a structure that looked not entirely unlike the Saxon Irminsul had been present in parts of ancient Fennoscandia since time immemorial. Flowers and dancing are two ingredients that surely called for some sort of structure, pole, or fire beacon to dance around — while doubling up not only as a symbol of the sun itself but also as the world tree — the axis mundi. And the pillar of heaven, reaching the North Star.
Līgo — Latvian Midsummer
One Baltic country, in particular, appears to celebrate Midsummer somewhat similarly to Sweden — with the addition of bonfires. In Latvia, Midsummer is called “Līgo” and a quick search on DuckDuckGo or Google reveals a myriad of photos showing pagan-like feasts that resemble Swedish Midsummer festivities (intriguingly, Latvian happens to be closer to Sanskrit and Proto Indo-European than any other tongue except Lithuanian.)
Draugablíkk wishes everyone a sparkling, heathen, and genuinely folkish Midsummer’s eve.