Photojournalist

The Swedish Tradition of Midsommar in Northern Maine, Photographed for Yankee Magazine

Midsommar is a festival of lightness, flowers, warmth, and food. It’s also a celebration of the natural movement of people. People take a lot of pride in the stories of how their greatgrandfathers and great-great-grandmothers wound up living in northern Maine, but there’s also a sense of latent worry. Aroostook County is a place that’s dwindling in population, and it has been for years. For these Mainers, immigration isn’t a problem to be solved. It’s a necessity. 

“We have a saying up here,” he tells me. “If you are not Swedish by genealogy, you can be Swedish by association. Swedishness is a feeling. It’s a feeling of community and comfort and understanding and appreciation.” Really, he says, “it’s just about being welcoming.” It’s a big-hearted sentiment, as sweet as lingonberry jam… but, I’m inclined to believe it. Midsommar is a relic from the past, but perhaps it’s also a symbol of our shared future. 

Text by writer, friend, and collaborator Katy Kelleher. Photographed for Yankee Magazine

© Greta Rybus