Sankt Hans Evening in Denmark…

Before the advent of Christianity in Denmark, all the Scandinavian countries celebrated the longest day of the year, the Midsummer. Although many cultures celebrate Midsummer, with a bonfire, in Denmark the celebration is infused with customs that dated back to darker and more superstitious times in the country’s history.

 

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Sankt Hans Aften (St. John’s Eve) takes its name from John the Baptist, who according to Christian tradition was born six months before Jesus. With Christmas celebrated on December 24th in Denmark, that puts John’s birthday on June 24th. Although the holiday is nominally Christian, it is built upon pagan traditions. Although the summer solstice is on 21 June, St John’s Eve is regarded as the actual Midsummer Eve and therefore the shortest night of the entire year.

 

St hank

 

The summer solstice is a night imbued with evil, a night in which witches make their way to the Brocken, the highest summit in the Herz Mountains in northern Germany. In order to ward off those broomstick-riding witches and their evil troll accomplices, Danes light a bonfire to keep the spooky forces at bay. And if that weren’t enough, the bonfires themselves are topped with a witch figure which is set ablaze on this special night. It is a night when Danes gather together to eat, drink and make merry in recognition of summer’s peak.

 

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The bonfire tradition continues to this day. Speeches are often followed by singing. Though church hymns were previously sung, in 1885 “Vi Elsker Vort Land” (We Love Our Country) by Holger Drachmann became the patriotic anthem of the holiday and is still sung today.

 

Peace and Love!

Copyright © 2017 by Simpledimple.  All Rights Reserved.

13 thoughts on “Sankt Hans Evening in Denmark…

  1. Yesterday in my country we were celebrating Rasos (St. John’s day), something very similar to this. Bonfires were burning too, well…. it should, but it was very rainy :/

    Nice post, I like it a lot 😉 It’s good to know that there is more like us still celebrating such pagan holidays 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. It’s a tradition and these days it’s the merriment and fun activities that most people look forward to. Midsummer in Sweden is a big celebration and much more fun. Are you in Scandinavia? Where?

      Like

      • No, I am living in small tiny country called Lithuania😉 Yes! I really love how people are gathering around the bonfire, singing, dancing and laughting. Something mystical about it too😉👍🏻

        Liked by 1 person

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