søndag den 23. juni 2013

Sankt Hans celebrations

So, today is Sankt Hans. This means that most Danes will gather around a bonfire when it starts to get dark. Most bonfires will be decorated with a home made witch! But why all this weird stuff?

Sankt Hans has much in common with the Swedish Valborgnatt or the German Walpurgisnacht celebrated the night before May 1st, also with bonfires and maypoles!

Except that this is two days after equinox and we have no poles, but witches on bonfires. Hm. How does this connect? Some people mean that Sankt Hans is a leftover from a pagan tradition celebrating the longest day of the year. Some people argue that Christian missionaries re-interpreted the customs so that it fit some sort of Christian celebration. Regardless, the midsummer celebrations were always important in Scandinavia, as the winters are soo long and dark. The idea was that this one of the longest nights of the year was magic! Therefore people would seek to sacred places and pick special herbs to make use of the magic. The witch-thing comes in here. They were said to fly to Bloksbjerg in Harzen, Germany on this evening and night. The witches on the bonfires are adopted from the Germans. The purpose was to scare away witches and evil spirits instead of burning actual witches.

It is usually celebrated with both public and private arrangements. People will often have a barbeque party before the bonfire. Usually some local known face will give a speach at the bonfire and people will sing when it is lit.

So where can you experience the bonfires? Basically anywhere near a lake or the ocean.

Here are some in Copenhagen:

Knippelsbro - Kayak Republic, right by one of the lakes. Large bonfire, live music and a floating beach lounge! From 18: 

Frederiksberg Have - One of the traditional Sankt Hans celebrations of Copenhagen. The park is really beautiful too. From 18:45. Free.

Fælledparken - Café Pavillonen. The cute little building by the lake in Parken will be making the bonfire on Østerbro. Live band (The Executives) from 20-23. There will be barbeque from 18, bonfire at 22. And it's free too! http://www.aok.dk/byliv/sankthans-i-faelledparken

Nyhavn - Bonfire on the water, bars on the landside. Tons of people and a lot of music. Bar from 14, speech from 21.45, bonfire from 22. Also free! http://www.aok.dk/byliv/sankt-hans-i-nyhavn

And of course, Tivoli! Bonfire in the lake at 21:30, a traditional orchestra and a Big Band. You still have to pay the Tivoli entrance, though.

Blågårds Plads, Nørrebro. Bonfire, koncerts, kitchen, samba and singalongs. Free and from 16, barbeque at 17:30 and bonfire from 21:15. DJ's until 23! It's sure to be one hell of a street party!

And the largest bonfire in Copenhagen can be found at Docken! It will be lit at 21! And it's free to go there!

Bakken will also have one! In fact, they will celebrate it along with their 430th anniversary and have a huge midsummer party! From 19. The bonfire will be by the lake!

"AAAhhh a witch, burn her!!"

Happy Sankt Hans,

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