Midsummer – the peak of Scandinavian boozing

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Karlsson vodka
Karlsson vodka, copyright BKWine Photography

We only have numbers from Sweden but we suspect that the situation is similar in other Nordic countries. Midsummer is one of the most important Swedish holidays. Only Christmas can rival. Midsummer is a bank holiday in reality if not in principle.

This year it was celebrated on June 24. (In reality it is the day with the shortest night, usually June 22 or 23, but the pragmatic Swedes have decided to permanently move it to a Friday so that everyone can go on a long weekend.)

So, here are the numbers: The day before Midsummer is the busiest day of the whole year in the Swedish monopoly alcohol shops, Systembolaget. In 2010 they have 1.1 million customers that day. (Sweden has a population of around 9 million.)

More statistics, this time for the full preceding Midsummer week (a four day week! all Systembolaget shops are closed on the actual Midsummer holiday):

  • 2.5 million customers
  • 175 000 litres of akvavit is sold, which is 1,400% more than a “normal” week
  • 7,300,000 litres of beer, +100% to a normal week
  • 4,900,000 l of wine, + 50%
  • 1,300,000 l of “pure alcohol equivalent” sold, + 77%

Not surprising that streets are not quite like a normal day. (Message to the government: Perhaps it would be a good idea to try and change the drinking culture and behaviour instead of spending large amounts of money on defending the archaic and not very effective monopoly system?)

Spiced Swedish akvavit
Spiced Swedish akvavit, copyright BKWine Photography

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