The local Swedish American chapter in Bemidji does a great job with the Midsummer Fest. A maypole is set up down by the Lake Bemidji waterfront. Vacationers and local people stop to enjoy the celebration. Everyone is welcome to dance around the maypole. I’ve even done it myself and haven’t been too embarrassed, I might add.


The start of summer holidays in Sweden

Swedes are fairly well attuned to the rhythms of nature. At Midsummer, many begin their five-week annual holidays and everyone is in a hurry to get things done during the relatively short summer season. Midsummer Eve is celebrated in the countryside − as always − and on the day before, everyone leaves town, everything closes and the city streets are suddenly spookily deserted.

The country’s main thoroughfares, on the other hand, are packed. Queues of cars stretch away into the distance, and at the end of the road, family and friends wait among silver birches in full, shimmering bloom.

Maypoles and dancing

Midsummer is an occasion of large gatherings − and to be honest, many Swedes take advantage of it to fulfil their social obligations so that they can enjoy the rest of their holiday in peace. In many cases, whole families gather to celebrate this traditional high-point of the summer.

Swedes like the world to be well-ordered, so Midsummer Eve is always a Friday between 19 and 25 June. People often begin the day by picking flowers and making wreaths to place on the maypole, which is a key component in the celebrations.

The maypole is raised in an open spot and traditional ring-dances ensue, to the delight of the children and some of the adults. Teenagers tend to stay out of it and wait for the evening’s more riotous entertainment.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about the Swedes and why there’s maypole dancing.

Many thanks to the Swedish Midsummer site: https://sweden.se/collection/celebrating-the-swedish-way/article/midsummer/

Here is the link to my website: Barb’s Books  FaceBook Twitter Goodreads



Norway’s Independence Celebration Day! Syttende Mai–May 17!


Today is the Norwegian National Day, better known as syttende Mai, marks the day Norway’s Constitution was signed in 1814, in effect declaring the country and independent kingdom.

After many historical twists and turns, Norwegians have emerged as arguably the Nordics’ best at throwing a nationwide party.


For a long time, The Constitution Day was celebrated on the 4th of November

Just a month following 17th of May 1814, Norway was forced into a union with Sweden, which would last  for almost a century. This meant that some parts of the constitution had to be changed, including a clause that would hinder Norway’s exit from the union. The new national day became November 4th. Naturally, all of this made the business of celebrating Norwegian independence all the more complicated.

Not until early twentieth century, after parting ways with big brother Sweden in 1905, would Norway resume its celebrations on 17th of May.


For the first decades, only boys were allowed to participate in the children’s parade

Perhaps not a “fun fact”, but notable nevertheless in the history of Nordic gender equality, is that when the first children’s parades were introduced in 1869 in Oslo as part of the national celebrations, only boys were included. Twenty years later, in 1889, girls were first allowed to participate in what is now one of the most iconic staples of 17. Mai.


The first recorded 17. Mai celebrations were in… Denmark

The former interim king of Norway, Christian Fredrik, was sent into an internal exile to Denmark in 1815 to serve as a General Governor of Fyn. Danes were fond of what he had accomplished in Norway (he would indeed one day serve as the king of Denmark), which gave Christian Fredrik cause to arrange festivities for the 17. Mai in 1815. These were the first documented celebrations of the Norwegian Constitution Day.

Norway, which now was in a union with Sweden, would have muted celebrations for the first decades of the 19th century.

Contrary to popular belief, the song that Norwegians sing during the celebrations, “Ja, vi elsker”, is actually not the national song of Norway. It was first performed in 1864 to mark the 50-year celebrations of 17. Mai.

The Norwegian culture was on display across the Twin Cities on May 20, as churches and communities celebrated Syttende Mai, Norway’s Constitution Day. (“Syttende Mai” translated means May 17 in Norwegian.) In Minnesota, the holiday is often commemorated on the Sunday closest to that date. Each year, one of the biggest celebrations takes place at Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis.

Every May 17th Norwegians worldwide celebrate Norway’s independence with a day similar to our 4th of July – only theirs is called Syttende Mai (the 17th of May).  George “Ole” Olson stopped by the studio to talk about this special Norwegian holiday.  Ole gave us a history lesson on the complicated relationship between Norway and Sweden and told us about the events related to the day.

The Sons of of Norway Bemidji Lodge 500 will host this year’s Syttende Mai event tomorrow, May 17th at the Norwegian Village within the Concordia Language Villages north of Bemidji.  Everyone is welcome to attend the event, enjoy the parade, eat Norwegian food and enjoy music by Eric Bergeson.  That event starts at 5pm with a social hour that will be followed by the parade, banquet and entertainment.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the history surrounding the Norwegians since there’s plenty in the state of Minnesota, including myself. You betcha!

Here is a link to where you can find me. Barb’s Books FaceBook Twitter Goodreads




I grew up with two brothers, I’m the one in the middle.  Then, I had to two boys. Let me tell you—I know what the meaning behind April Fool’s Day is!

Mom assigned jobs, and back in those days, there weren’t dish washers.  Needless to say, I did my share of dishes. It could be my turn and my brother would ask to switch days, and I’d go along with him. Guess who ended up washing them?  My younger brother was quite a bit younger than myself, but when he got older, then he became a problem.  He’d tell me, I won’t peek or follow when I was with my girlfriends. April Fool’s! He was always around bugging me. Or, I’m only going to get one candybar and guess who would be out the extra cash?

April Fools, Barb!  Right, I thought! Payback will be tough, brothers.

Of course, I always believed them because they’re my brothers. Why wouldn’t I?


Fast forward to my own grown boys.  Now, I can sit back and laugh at the payback my grandchildren have done to them. I’m not sure if the payback makes up for the hose spray. Just kidding Mom!April Fools! Placing my Raggedy Ann doll on the toilet.  Hahaha! April Fools!

You pranksters, did you know that AprilFool’s Day began in 1392 with the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales? Experts believe there was an error in copying “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”.  It said 32 days in March—which brings us to April 1.

There are accounts of trickery all through history.

In the Nordic countries newspapers have stories printed without titles. In 1857 England, tickets were sold for an event at the Tower of London, and it was a hoax.


It’s kind of fun to read about all the hoaxes and tricks through the years.

Have a happy trickster day!

If you have anything important to tell me, tell me tomorrow because I won’t believe it today!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the blog. To learn more about me and my books or to sign up for my newsletters, visit my website:  website

August—what to do? Read—that’s what!

Summer keeps us moving and August is a month to celebrate and really enjoy because soon the long, hot days will be cold, long days of winter.

Let’s not think of those cold, north winds and low temperatures. Outdoor activities should be high on the list for things to do, and that includes reading a good book in the sun, near the lake.

August 9 is National Book Lover’s Day.  Here are some things that you can do to celebrate books.

Visit your library.

Buy a book by your favorite author.

Read a book by a new author.

Participate in a book exchange.

Books are always better than the movie.

Travel the world with a book.

So, when you plan your camping trip or other outing, bring a book!

Breathe in the fresh air, and let your imagination go—and enjoy!  You won’t regret it.



Here is the link to my website:  Barb’s Books