This week is Midsummer, which you may probably know under its Swedish name “Midsommar”. It is the longest day of the year and I absolutely love these short summer nights in June and July, when the sun sets at 9.30 pm and and rises before 5 am.
When I was a teenager, these were the best days of the school year. I was allowed to stay out longer, because my parents thought that if the sun is still shining, it is OK to do so. Our exams were over and all we did was counting the hours until we could hit the lake or the public swimming pool after school. (Some teachers treated us with ice cream instead of Latin or Math.) We made big plans for our summer break and on the weekends we stayed out until sunrise.
I find it really interesting how the sunlight affects our attitude and motivation. Waking up is so much easier when the sun is shining already. And while it is really tough to keep working after the sun sets at 5 pm in winter, it feels like only mid-day in summer. Nobody dreads the end of the winter season, but we all do not want the beautiful summer days and nights to end.
I always loved the warm season and said that I would not mind to live in a country where there is eternal summer. When I moved to Southeast Asia, most locals told me that I would start to miss the cold weather and the seasons very soon. I did not believe them at first. But after some time, I really did. I think if you have too much of something, you stop appreciating it. Maybe we have to go through the dark winter season, to appreciate the sunny times. And Austrians really do – as soon as the sun is out in spring, we flock the outdoor areas of the cafés and restaurants. (They are called “Schanigärten” in Vienna.) Even if we have to wrap in a dozen layers, we want to make use of every minute of sun.
I am particularly excited to spend this Midsummer week in one of the Nordic countries (I will reveal which one in next week’s Postcard.). I am a big fan of Astrid Lindgren’s books and one of my childhood heroines was Lindgren’s Madita, a young girl living at Birkenlund estate in a small Swedish town. I read the books, listened to audio cassettes and watched the movies. One of my favourite Madita episodes was the one about Midsommar when Madita loses one of her new shoes at the bonfire. In Austria, we do not really have any celebrations like in the Nordic countries. There are some bonfires here and there, but the celebrations are not as important as in the North. Maybe I will get to experience some celebrations this week and if not, I am excited to at least experience even shorter nights up North.
Wherever you are right now, I am sending you a lot of sunshine and I will try to share the extra-long days this week with you. Have a beautiful Midsummer week ahead!