By Marina Aagaard, MFE
The Christian holy day, Feast Day, of St John the Baptist, his birthday on June 24, in some countries is celebrated the night before, on the evening of June 23,
St John’s Eve, especially in the nordic countries, where the summer nights are beautifully bright (some say insomnia inducing).
St John’s Eve (Sankt Hans aften in Danish) is a very popular event in Denmark, a Midsummer highlight. You go to friends for a meal and then at 9 or 10 pm everyone goes to a large bonfire, an event for all of the town or neighbourhood.
All along the Aarhus bay area fires are lit. As you can tell from the clouds and smoke, this was a grey and windy evening. Typical Danish St John’s Eve …
In Denmark, as St John’s Eve is said to be charged with a special power where evil forces are also at work, a ‘witch burning’ is included: On this night witches are said to fly, or rather are sent away, to the Brocken, Bloksbjerg in Danish, on their broomsticks
(the Brocken is the highest peak, 1,142 m a.s.l., in Harzen, Germany).
The witch is normally represented by some old clothes stuffed with hay and put on top of a large pile of wood.
Pile of wood with ‘witch’ on top. Photo from behind, too scary from front!
(read; photo from front unfortunately was contemptibly poor)
People gather around the bonfire and sing a few midsummer songs and then go back home to party. Mostly, this evening, parties are low-key, less dancing and singing, more eating and sipping wine and beer.
You should not play with fire, but this night ‘everyone’ does.
Due to the wind this bonfire was a speedy event.
So this weekend included a short trip, not to Brocken (for me), but to Egaa, a nice seaside area near Aarhus, second city of Denmark, for a St John’s Eve night with friends.
Is this travelling? Yes, it is, if you think it is. Small travels can be big travels mentally:
Take every opportunity to travel with your brain; every day experience different things and connect/communicate with friends and new friends.
Midsummer’s Eve bonfire on Skagen’s beach, 1906. P.S. Krøyer.
A famous Danish painting portraying the artist’s friends by the bonfire.
To be seen at Skagens Museum. A museum well worth visiting.