Midsommar is usually a bitter-sweet celebration for Swedes. The weather is just starting to warm up and it finally starts to feel like summer weather after a long May of cold, dreary rain with average temperatures in the 6-11 C (43-52 F) range.

What’s worse is that every Swede you talk to has some sort of Farmer’s Almanac approach of predicting how nice or cold a summer will be based on the weather experienced during the winter. How that makes any sense at all is beyond my comprehension.

“Well, if we have a really hard winter, we’ll have a nice summer. If we have a warm winter, the summer will be bad.”

My eyes narrow skeptically. Umm…ok.

Swedish weather is like playing roulette. You look for patterns but there are none. Something has to make sense but it doesn’t.

The events from the past are totally independent from the events in the future. There is zero influence between summer and winter weather but nonetheless, Swedes need to hang onto something.

In pure justification for suffering through a long, dark, cold winter, we promise ourselves that we’ll be magically rewarded with a warm summer.

Odin and the other Norse gods will take pity on us and give us barely warm days that will actually feel hot—something I’ve only experienced in Sweden.

People care so much about summer and winter weather that savvy homebuyers will know which direction the back porch is facing and will determine how much sunlight the house gets during the day before purchasing.

“Oh, this house gets good sunlight after 5 pm. We’ll take it!”

Nobody wants to be stuck in the shade all day…heaven forbid. 

A warm Swedish summer is never a guarantee

Last year, it was cold. Midsommar was deceptively warm and we thought we’d enjoy a beautiful summer season in Sweden.

We booked a staycation and traveled a bit around the country. While we did have sun, we had zero warmth. It felt like the sun was mocking us.

While up in Höga Kusten in the northern part of Sweden, we stopped by an outlet store and bought fleece hoodies for everyone.

It’s really frustrating to feel cold all year long, never to put away your sweatshirts or ever wear shorts. We booked a last-minute trip to Budapest that was necessary for our mental and physical health.

We actually felt sweaty. We felt hot! It was a much needed escape to feel warm again.

But that was 2017…2018 is another story altogether. No escape required this year.

Unprecedented—a heatwave

“Lisa, in the six years you’ve lived in Sweden, have you ever experienced weather like this?” my neighbor asked me at a dinner party.

Before I could answer, another person pipes up, “In 42 years, I’ve never experienced weather like this!”

May-June 2018 in Sweden marks the warmest months ever in a 150 years. 150 years!

No wonder the Swedes don’t trust it.

“Just wait. It’ll be cold on midsommar. I guarantee it. This can’t last.”

When you experience cold weather every May of your entire life and then suddenly, experience daily temperatures in excess of 10-15C the usual average, you start to feel a bit uneasy.

You’re sure this weather won’t last. It can’t. It never has.

Sweden is still experiencing a heatwave coupled with little-to-no rainfall which has led to drought conditions and wildfires. The drought conditions aren’t great, but I’ll take this warmer weather any day. Any day. You hear me, Odin? I’m loving it.

We had two days dip down to “colder” temperatures typical of a normal season and everyone put their spring jackets on with an air of defeat. Svea was reminding us that we still live at the 57th latitude and there’s no room for cockiness. This nice weather can disappear in a snap.

The two graphs below represent what Sweden’s May and June weather have looked like for the past 114 years. The average temperature in May was 23.5 C (74 F) and in June was 22 C (72 F). Compared to 6 C and 11 C respectively, you can see why Swedes are feeling extra warm and fuzzy about the weather.

So, this midsommar will actually feel like it is happening mid-summer and not at the beginning of summer. We’ve had nearly two months of glorious summer weather.

The summer well wishes are contagious. It’s hard not to be in a good mood when you feel like you’ve made the most of the nice weather.

Glad midsommar!

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