Sour Cream and Herring – What a Feast

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In Sweden Midsummer is celebrated around the second or third weekend of June. It is one of the more important holidays in Sweden and family and friends get together to celebrate. If the weather allows, the celebration take place outdoors, preferably in a countryside garden or a park.

For most families the celebration usually start with the decorating a Maypole either the night before Midsummer or early on Midsummer morning. The Maypole is decorated with birch leaves and wild flowers.  At lunch time the most important part of Midsummer celebration takes place.  A buffet is served, mainly consisting of a variety of pickled herrings. The pickled herring is eaten with new potatoes and sour cream sprinkled with chives, freshly made bread and sliced cheese and green salad. The herring comes in an array of various flavours, the most popular being herring with pickled onion, herring in mustard sauce and sprats cured in brine.  The lunch is rounded off with fresh strawberries and cream cake, in taste reminiscent of British trifle less the jelly.

After lunch it is time to gather round the maypole to watch traditional dancers perform, often accompanied with live accordion and violins. After the performance everyone join in family ring games around the Maypole.

In the evening it is barbeque time. But for starter… it is herring again. Few Swedish holiday celebrations seem to be complete without the herring. It is on the menu for Christmas, it is on the menu for Easter and certainly, it is on the menu for Midsummer. 

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