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Midsummer in Saltvik

Celebrating Midsummer is an old tradition in Åland. On Midsummer’s Eve, people gather in the villages. They slowly raise the midsummer pole, which has been decorated in advance with ornaments and leaves.

A whole lot of manpower is needed to slowly put up the pole, with help from so called scissors and rope. The pole captain leads the job, which nowadays often is made easier with winches.

When the pole is standing upright, people sing Ålänningens sång (the national anthem of Åland) and dance ring dances.

In Saltvik, the midsummer poles are put up at the following places:

Högtomt
Solbacka
Tengsöda
Bertbyvik

What is on a midsummer pole?

On top is the “fäktargubbe” (“the fencing man”). This is a small figure made of wood, often dressed in a white shirt and a vest. Fäktargubben gesticulates to give the farmers a good harvest.

Beneath the fäktargubbe, is a pennant. Since Åland got its own flag in 1954, most pennants have the Åland colours.

Below the pennant, you see four small sailboats. They rotate in the wind and symbolize the shipping in Åland.

The crowns are the most eye catching part of the midsummer pole. Making them takes a long time and traditionally the women in the village tie them. The crowns are made of different coloured papers, which are cut and wrapped around steel frames. In the archipelago they don’t make paper crowns, instead they make wreaths of flowers and leaves.

Magic powers

On Midsummer’s Eve strange things can happen. Here are a few examples, but remember – they only work on this particular night.

- If you roll about in dewy grass on Midsummer’s Eve, freckles and pimples will disappear.
- If you pick seven different kinds of flowers and sleep with them under your pillow, you will dream about your future wife/husband.
- If you want to know something about the rest of the year in general, go sit under an old apple tree. You will get the same effect if you sit on the roof of a house that has been moved three times!