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Celebrating Sweden’s Penis

This weekend is a long one. Another public holiday here in Sweden, God bless them. Everyone gets Friday off (and a bit of Thursday) as it is ‘Midsummer Eve’ Sweden’s most Swedish day.

Midsummer is the biggest celebration of the year in Sweden and is a tradition that celebrates the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. It dates back hundreds of years and was used to ensure a good harvest and the fertilization of the ground. In modern times, it’s more about general fertility and drinking 80 proof snaps, which in turn helps with the fertility.

Midsummer is all about nature, feeling the sun on your skin, the coming summer and sticking wildflowers in your hair. We will drink, eat, sing and dance, yes just another Friday in Sweden.

Behold the glory of the Swedish penis

The focus of this most beloved celebration – and the most recognized symbol of midsummer – is the maypole. And when I say maypole, I mean penis. Balls and all. In many parks and town squares all around Sweden, a tall, larger than life pole covered with many leaves and flowers – with balls of flowers hanging on each side – will be decorated and erected for all to admire. The maypole penis is of course, a phallic symbol that was in ye olde times, stuck into the ground to fertilize the dirt for next year’s harvest.

So what happens next after the penis is launched? We dance around it. Of course we do! We all hold hands and dance around pretending to be frogs, crows and other animals. As I am currently 9 months pregnant my chosen animal will be the cow.

After the dancing comes the eating, drinking and singing. We will all feast on fermented herring*, herring in all different shapes and forms, small sausages, hard breads, baby potatoes with chives and sour cream, fantastic Vasterbotten cheese pie and delicious sweet strawberries, the first of the season.

And with the food comes the snaps. And the singing. Trust. Before you swill down your moonshine, you need to sing a song. This is where everyone will sing traditional drinking songs and I’ll just sit there smiling, trying to keep up.

So as you can tell, it is a wonderous and beautiful time of year in Sweden, so why not celebrate with gusto. And as said, as I am 9 months pregnant and a most obviously ripe symbol of flowering fertility, I cannot help but feel that all of Sweden will be honouring me.

No wonder it’s my favourite day on the Swedish calendar! Bring it on!!!!!

  • Not me.

My Mother-in-law’s famous Vasterbotten Pie.

Serves four:

3 dl (1.2 cups) Wheat Flour

125 grams Butter (0.3 pounds)

1 tbs Water


3 Eggs 

3 dl (1.2 cups) Crème Fraîche

250 grams (0.6 pounds) Vasterbotten Cheese (an incredibly tasty and strong hard cheese from the beautiful Vasterbotten region of Sweden)

1 Onion

1 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp White Pepper

1. Mix cold butter in small pieces with the flour. Realise you never washed your hands to begin with so throw it all out and start again.  Add water and work together the dough. Let rest for about 30 minutes in your refrigerator. Get occupied with your baby name list and forget about what you are doing. Oh well, it will keep.

2. Add the dough to a pie form and pray to the Lord that it’s not going to bloody stick and just crumble like last time. Prebake for about 10 minutes at 200 celsius/392 fahrenheit until lightly coloured. *Lightly coloured can mean anything from golden brown to you-are-going-to-end-up-with-skin-cancer sunburnt brown. It depends if you can remember when you put the darn thing in first but don’t worry, if it gets a bit crispy it will be filled over with the topping so no bastard will notice.

3. Drink some snaps.

3. Peel and finely chop the onion, whisk the eggs until foamy and mix with the crème fraîche. Realise you didn’t remember to actually buy special and expensive Vasterbotten’s cheese and ask your Swedish husband if the normal cheese in the fridge will do. Get grumpy when he says it won’t.

4. Add the  grated special cheese, chopped onion, salt and pepper. Fill the pie-crust with the cheese-mixture and bake until golden brown for about 25 minutes at 225 celsius/437 fahrenheit.

5. Serve with a green leaf salad and perhaps a beer/more snaps. Be thankful that you did go out and buy the special cheese because it tastes like heaven. Commend yourself on being such a great faux Swedish wife, even if the pie crust did still stick to the form.

[Photos courtesy of, Conny Fridh + Miriam Preis + Carolina Romare/]

*The rate of posts of the blog may slow down, inline with the tempo I now waddle. The baby is locked and ready  to go so it’s anytime now!

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. westendbaby #

    My goodness I hadn’t realised you were at the nine months stage already. How exciting! Presumably you won’t be blogging your way through labour but I hope you are able to keep us updated somehow?
    Love your recipe. Anything with strong cheese in it must be good.

    June 20, 2012
    • It’s very exciting, the head is engaged so it can be go time. Week 36 now so it would be good if it waits a little longer but we will see.

      I love this type of cheese and my mother in law makes the best pie with it ever!

      June 21, 2012
  2. Eleni #

    Love your recipes!

    June 21, 2012
    • Thanks! Unfortunately I’m not taking any poetic license, it usually is how it goes down 🙂

      June 21, 2012
      • Eleni #

        I presumed so much! LoL

        June 21, 2012
  3. This title better not get my computer flagged here at work, you devil ;). Swedes are very celebratory ppl. Got a population problem or something 😉 You drank snaps while making your pie?! LOL.

    June 21, 2012
  4. Am intrigued… do you go somewhere special for this celebration (big public parks etc) or is it something families do through gatherings???

    Also cannot believe you are nine months!!!

    June 22, 2012
    • It’s usually in the bigger public parks, we are about to leave. Sun is shining, cannot wait!

      June 22, 2012
  5. Yummy recipe and I wish we had fun holidays like that!

    July 3, 2012
  6. LOL … great post. Love to try that cheese!

    July 10, 2012

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  1. The Magic of Midsummer in Stockholm | loulouloves
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