Midsummer is a traditional holiday celebrated in Scandinavia and Northern Europe following the summer solstice in June. Midsummer's eve is in Sweden and Finland considered The Greatest Festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve.
In Sweden, Midsummer's Eve and Midsummer's Day is moved to the third Friday and Saturday of June. The main celebrations takes place on the Friday, the traditional events include raising and dancing around a huge phallic maypole. Before the maypole is raised, greens and flowers are collected and used to cover, to "may", the entire pole.
Raising and dancing around a maypole is primarily an activity which attracts families, even though it traditionally is a fertility ritual. Dancing around the pole is often accompanied by traditional music and the wearing of traditional folk costumes. The year's first potatoes, pickled herring, sour cream, and possibly the first strawberries of the season are on the menu.
Youngsters, not yet responsible for any family, demonstrate their eagerness to get one by intense procreation, dancing and drinking (often in the reversed order).
In Finland the midsummer holiday is a notable occasion for drunkenness and revels. As in Sweden, maypoles and pickled herring is the hallmark of the coastal areas, where also the Finland-Swedish language and culture have its stronghold. In the rest of Finland, bonefires take the place of the maypole, and smoked fish from the nearby lake is eaten instead of pickled herring, but then the differences end. Midsummer is in Finland celebrated at least as intencely as in Sweden.
Many people get indecently drunk and happy. The statistics of the number of men drowned with their zipper open is morbidly recounted every year. Also statistics of stabbing demonstrates a peak for this weekend.
The Swedish Midsummer celebrations in Battery Park, New York City, attracts some 3,000-5,000 people annually, which makes it one of the largest celebrations after the ones held in Leksand and at the Skansen Park in Stockholm.