Tomorrow, Saturday, June 21st, is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, with the longest period of daylight we’ll enjoy this year. This is a fun occasion here in New Haven, but it’s a day of particular revelry for people who live even closer to the North Pole, like Scandinavians, for example. In Sweden, Midsummer is sufficiently important that there has been some thought given to having it replace June 6th as the National Day of Sweden (June 6th marks the long-ago end of Danish rule, and the start of Swedish independence).
Today, then, is Midsummer’s Eve (Midsommarafton) in Sweden, and the biggest Midsummer celebrations are going on today and tonight. Much pickled herring will be consumed; much beer will be tippled. Schnapps may be involved, as well as the first strawberries of the season, and traditional ring dances curl around maypoles festooned with flowers.
Another legendary and widely celebrated Swedish tradition is the design and production of beautiful, colorful, brilliantly designed wooden toys. This summer, we are pleased to publish with the Bard Graduate Center Swedish Wooden Toys, a book that honors and explores this tradition, and features beautiful photography of dozens of Swedish wooden toys, including rattles, rocking horses, building blocks, skis, sleds, and tabletop games, among other items. Here’s a slideshow of some of the toys featured in the book, to whet your appetite — the book will be available in August.