For 81 years a bunch of American Swedes have congregated at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis to celebrate their heritage with music, dance, and food. Svenskaranas Dag (Swedish Heritage Day) used to draw as many as twenty thousand people who danced around the maypole and picnicked along The Falls. Honored guests included politicians and celebrities. Fewer folks attend the event these days, although we still get the occasional politician, but we are no less enthusiastic than those who came before us.
My Great Aunt Hazel told me stories about Svenskarnas Dag when she was young. Every Swede in the Midwest showed up at the park (along with plenty of non-Swedes looking for a good time on a warm summer day). She and Uncle Elmer would pack a lunch of sandwiches and cold beer and meet up with their friends and family.
T and I continue the Svenskarnas Dag tradition. Each year we join our friends and share a plate of herring and meatballs. We listen to music, catch up on our lives, and swat mosquitoes. This year we sat together at Sea Salt for some post-midsummer dining.
The Falls were thick and noisy from all of the rain we’ve had this year. Like a drum beat from the past, they reminded me that regardless of what the future holds we can rely on traditions to keep us connected.
As we left the park I could tell T wasn’t ready for the day to end. “What do you think about an ice cream cone?” he asked me. Grand Ole Creamery in St. Paul is another tradition we share and it doesn’t really feel like summer until T and I walk along Grand Avenue with our cones. I can now confirm that Summer 2014 has arrived, and our traditions endure.