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“Sankt Hans Aften” a midsummer celebration in Denmark

It’s June 23 soon, and it’s where to experience the bonfires in celebration of midsummer. This particular tradition of the Danish culture known as ” Sankt Hans Aften ” which can be translated as the evening before the day of Saint John the Baptist.


In the beginning of the 20th century, it became common to affix a figure resembling a witch on top of the bonfire. This tradition came from Germany, and some Danes regard this particular part of the tradition with mixed emotions as it evokes memories of the horrible persecutions and “witch”-burnings carried out in Denmark and other European countries in the 17th century. However, this custom is only a little part of the overall tradition, and it is easy to forget about the negative associations once you immerse yourself in the general atmosphere of coziness surrounding the celebrations.

They says, that it’s the evening where they have a powerful power that they can use in their witchcraft.

The most recent addition to the Sankt Hans-celebrations is the custom of the recent high school graduates to meet up at the bonfires to throw their lecture notes into the fire and to generally enjoy their last party before going on summer holidays.

This is considered to be a very beautiful and cozy moment as everyone will be looking into the fire and at each other. Families will be there and the little kids will be fascinated by the flames and sparks of the fire. Perhaps there are also some students will be present and will be singing, dancing and drinking, and they will be busy throwing their lecture notes into the fire. Boats will be in the water admiring the bonfire from a distance.

And there you can hear fire crackers that sounds scream from the bonfire as a symbolize how the witches suffer while they are burning them on fire until they die.

While watching there are some families enjoying their meals and some of them are drinking beers while their having a barbecue, some families are also bringing some picnic clothes and picnic foods in the basket to celebrate the Sankt Hans Aften.

It doesn’t matter which different ways or how Danes will celebrate the Sankt Hans Aften, for all I know they enjoy it. It also comes only once a year.

I wonder how will I celebrate it?!

hmmm…….. I gues I’ll just stay home and watch the celebration of Sankt Hans on tv.

By the way it’s also the longest day of the year here in Denmark.

sunrise : 04:26 am sunset 21:58 pm


June 17, 2010 - Posted by | culture/tradition

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