June 23, 2017
Yesterday was a travel day to Rättvik, an idyllic town about 4 hours north of Stockholm. We are staying at a retreat center that is well know for it’s midsommar festivities.
Before we boarded the bus for Rättvik, we sang a lunchtime concert at St Jacob’s Church. This was the first time for many of these girls in a venue with such stunning acoustics and they were still talking about it through the evening.
These types of concerts are some of my favorite- we essentially just drop in and sing without any expectations for an audience. People come and go throughout the concert and it’s all very relaxed. I’m even able to sit and watch the concert- a rarity!
A longer-than-expected bus ride got us to Rättvik in time for dinner and rehearsal then it was lights out as we tried to make rooms as dark as possible. Still, some woke up in the middle of the night thinking they overslept. Not sure how the Swedes manage during the summer.
Today we learned all about the history and traditions of midsommar in Rättvik, starting with a short tour of a typical family home from the 19th century. Our guide was in full traditional midsummer attire- something we would see a lot more of later that day.
Of course, midsommar’s eve is not complete without flower crowns! The rest of the morning was spent collecting wild flowers and twisting them into wreaths the girls wore until they were almost completely wilted.
It was traditional Swedish cuisine for lunch. We’re trying new things! I will make sure they report back their findings upon their return home.
Next up, decorating and raising the maypole, which absolutely cannot be done without breaking into song. Nothing like a little Maliswe while you work! Once it was raised, an octet of fiddlers descended from the hill and we danced around the maypole with great zeal.
Post dinner (again, traditional Swedish food) there was a midsommar parade and another maypole raising but this time a BIG maypole. It took about a dozen people and at least a half hour to raise it.
But I think the highlight of our day was the dance party on the dock. There was enough Cupid Shuffle and Cotton Eye Joe to make even the priest join in. All days should end with a dance party on a pier in Sweden in the rain with Swedish sausages, just saying.
Tonight it is actually dark, unlike yesterday where it barely broke twilight, because of the rain. Hopefully that means a solid night of sleep for all.