Sunday, June 17, 2007

Midsummer at IKEA

The sun was blazing and the sky was clear as 15 Scandinavian singers gathered in the parking lot of IKEA in New Haven to spread some summer joy. A good 30 people in the audience gladly sang along to traditional Swedish songs like “Sköna maj” (Beautiful May) and “Hälsa dem därhemma” (Great My Dear Old Mother).

But it must have been a sight for the American onlookers (including some IKEA employees) when all those familiar with Swedish traditions eagerly got out of the lawn chairs to dance around a maypole. The pole was, of course, decorated with leaves and colorful flowers and stood about six feet tall.

Vivan Sundman, a Swede living in the Fairfield area, led the group on her accordion through “Vi äro musikanter” (We are Musicians) and the singers guided other participants through the gestures of playing the violin, the bass and the flute. To top it all off, Vivan played “Små grodorna,” a song about frogs that have no ears or tails.

I, of course, sang out loud and clear for this one, gesturing wildly with my hands by my ears (to show that frogs have no ears) and wiggling my hands over my butt behind my back (because frogs have no tails). All 50 people in a circle around the pole – the majority of them over 50 years old – gladly imitated me and jumped as I jumped while we were singing ‘kow-ack-ack-ack.’ That must have been some sight.

In Sweden, children are the ones dancing around the maypole. One chorus member from Karlstad, Sweden, had specifically said prior to the performance that he would participate in no such thing. But when the celebration started, he was jumping around with everyone else, a big grin on his face.

No comments: