A Midsummer Maypole

midsommarUndenäs C:1 (1689-1711) Image 94 / page 88 (AID: v16209.b94.s88, NAD: SE/GLA/13601) Link to image in ArkivDigital.

In the death books, one usually finds the cause of death for an individual.  While there are many causes, one often sees old age, tuberculosis, an unknown illness or the Latin medical term. The cause of death found in the record above is unusual but interesting because it shows that Midsummer has a long tradition in Sweden.

Swedish transcription
”1694. Lars i Skallebo ihiälslagen af en Missommar stångh d.16 Augusti och begrofs på kyrkog: d.26 ejusdem.”

English Translation
Lars in Skallebo was killed by a Midsummer maypole on the 16th of August and was buried in the church yard on the 26th of the same month.

We at ArkivDigital wish all a wonderful Midsummer. Glad Midsommar!

Original article in Swedish.


One thought on “A Midsummer Maypole

  1. In my view, “Maypole” is a common mis-translation to English of the Swedish midsommar pole, majstång. Since the main focus on the majstång occurs in June, calling it a maypole makes no sense. According to my copy of Svenska Akademiens ordlist över svenska språket (1998), the first definition of “maj” is the name of the month. However, the second definition “maj” is “med grönt löv.” The verb “maja” is “pryda med grönt.” These seem to form the more logical basis for translating majstång as a “greened pole,” which it really is around midsommer.