Midsummer is a chance for all restaurants to seize and showcase their culinary strengths and creativity. Everyone wants to celebrate summer, and by hosting exciting events that revolve around summer and all the tasty treats your kitchen has to offer, you’re sure to attract guests on the year’s longest and brightest days.
Read on to get tips for events and find out how Midsummer is celebrated in different European countries!
Most of us think of Midsummer as a way to celebrate the good life that summer brings us. And while that’s true now, historically, the holiday was also a way to ensure a successful harvest. In some countries, the celebration may have been associated with local gods who were thought to control the rain and thus could decide whether or not the harvest would be the success everyone was hoping for.
Some of the historic festivities resembled the ones we’re still enjoying today, such as lighting bonfires, singing, drinking, and dancing. Cleaning the house was also important, but luckily very few of us worry about offending the gods with a bit of dust or dirty dishes these days.
Swedes embrace elaborate Midsummer celebrations, as families and friends come together to enjoy food, song, and dance, dressed in white or pastel colours. Picture flower crowns, pickled herring, juicy Swedish strawberries, new potatoes, and, of course, snaps to accompany the cheerful melodies. The centrepiece of the festivities is the maypole, drawing children and even some adults into the whirl of traditional ring dances.
Swedish Midsummer Eve 2023 falls on Friday, June 23
Danes celebrate midsummer with a traditional festival called “Sankthansaften” or “Saint John’s Eve.” The highlight of the celebration is the lighting of bonfires on beaches, parks, and other outdoor locations across the country. The festivities often begin with speeches and live music performances. Danish Sankthansaften is a family-friendly event, and families often bring picnic baskets filled with delicious food and drinks to enjoy while watching the bonfire.
Danish Midsummer Eve is always celebrated on June 23.
In Norwegian Midsummer, known as “Sankthansaften” or “jonsok,” people gather around a grand bonfire, indulging in grilled meats and vegetables, fresh seafood, and refreshing drinks. The most spectacular Sankthansaften bonfire in recent years has been the towering structure built annually on Slinningsodden in Ålesund. In 2016, it set a world record with an impressive height of 47.39 meters.
In Norway, the midsummer bonfire gatherings always take place on June 23.
Finnish Midsummer celebrations are known as “Juhannus.” Finns come together to embrace the magic of the midnight sun. The festivities include bonfires, traditional dances, and singing. Finnish delicacies like grilled sausages, freshly caught fish, new potatoes, and various summer dishes are enjoyed. Saunas play a significant role, followed by a refreshing dip in the lake. In Finland, the Midsummer weekend is also a popular time for weddings and confirmations.
Midsummer or St. John’s Day — Jaanipäev in Estonian — is an important tradition in Estonia. It has deep roots in ancient folk traditions where it used to mark the beginning of the hay season. Festivities include singing, dancing, and indulging in Estonian summer dishes such as grilled meats, potato salad, kvass (a rye-bread drink) or local beer. As in Norway and Denmark, the highlight of the celebration is the big bonfire. Some Estonians even build their own small bonfires, as jumping over a small fire is said to bring good health.
In Estonia, Midsummer is always celebrated from June 23 to June 24.
In most European countries, midsummer festivities are enjoyed outdoors in the hopefully warm weather. That makes it the perfect time for a picnic basket full of summer treats from your restaurant.
You can start offering your picnic baskets in advance, allowing your guests to simply pick them up on the afternoon before Midsummer’s Eve. You don’t need to reveal everything in the basket beforehand, but sharing hints about the most irresistible treats on your social media channels and booking platform will help entice more people and give them an appetite for your delicacies.
Does your restaurant have a cosy yard and a large grill? Why not host a Midsummer’s Eve barbecue featuring mouthwatering grilled summer vegetables, meats, seafood, and perhaps even a dessert with grilled strawberry skewers? Set the ambience with lively music, decorate the yard with wildflowers, and encourage both staff and guests to wear flower crowns.
You could even offer a flower crown to each guest. That also gives you a perfect opportunity to take a relaxing walk to gather wildflowers for the crowns. Sell tickets for the event in advance to ensure smooth planning for your staff and a magical experience for your guests.
Gourmet-craving city dwellers will welcome the opportunity to celebrate the Summer Solstice with a culinary tour de force of a menu.
Bring all the seasonal delicacies into play and craft a 3- or 5-course menu featuring summer greens, grilled fish, new potatoes, and summer berries. Pair the menu with crisp and fruity wines, and why not even a glass of refreshing Midsummer bubbles?
This year, Midsummer’s Eve falls on a Friday in most countries. So, as the air starts to cool down, many people will grab the chance to conclude the evening with a couple of elegant summer cocktails.
Create a cocktail menu showcasing summer herbs, fresh fruits. And why not something with a fiery twist to suit the occasion? Accompany the cocktails with a small and delectable snack plate. Consider offering event tickets for 2 cocktails and a snack plate.
A scrumptious breakfast or brunch is the ideal way to kickstart the day after a night of outdoor festivities. Midsummer Day falls on Saturday, June 24 in 2023.
Entice your guests with a lavish summer breakfast or brunch featuring omelettes, fried eggs, cheeses and pancakes. And don’t forget tasty specialities exclusive to your restaurant. Make the experience complete with freshly squeezed juices, mimosas, and soothing music to create a tranquil atmosphere that eases any lingering midsummer hangovers.
Whether Midsummer festivities are an important tradition in your country or not, there are millions of reasons to celebrate summer. Many guests would be thrilled to celebrate at your restaurant. Use our tips to kickstart your planning and create an abundance of culinary summer magic that will leave a lasting impression on your guests until it’s time to dust off the winter coat again.