PORTER | Marilyn Arvidson, a volunteer with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, welcomed the crowd Saturday to the Scandinavian Midsummer Celebration at Chellberg Farm as she told of her heritage and encouraged all to share in the tradition.
“We should not forget the Old Country from where our roots have come. Many early immigrants to this new country did not want to forget the Old Country so they wanted to carry on the tradition here,” said Arvidson, whose father left Sweden as a young man to settle just three miles down the road from Chellberg Farm.
Midsummer festivals are held to celebrate the summer solstice, which has been observed in Scandinavia for centuries.
Children from Nordikids in Munster, led by director Lynnea Sinwelski, danced around the maypole, a structure decorated with flowers and branches of green leaves that signifies new life, as they sang songs in the Swedish language.
“I den stora tysta natt, Star jag har vid skeppets ratt, Under him lens stjarnehar, man pa ost mig satt,” sang the children, a song called "Halsa Dem Darhemma" about sending regards back to Sweden from afar.
Arvidson remembered her own father’s struggles to build a future in America, leaving behind his family in Sweden, just as the song alludes.
“I cry every time I hear this song because my dad was here 13 years before he got to go back home to see his parents,” said Arvidson, wiping her eyes from underneath her delicate glasses, a wreath of flowers upon her head.
Those who came to celebrate the first full day of summer enjoyed music and dancing along with old-fashioned games like dropping clothes pins into glass milk bottles, ring toss, and corn cob throwing to earn a Junior Ranger patch from the Indiana DNR.
For Joyce Harris, of Chesterton, coming out to enjoy the summer celebration was a way to support the next generation of Americans about the Swedish heritage here in the region, like the Chellbergs and Arvidsons who settled in the new land they called home.
“The children were magnificent at dancing and thrilled about their Swedish heritage. Singing in the Swedish language is extremely hard and it’s critical to pass that knowledge along to the next generation,” Harris said.