I spotted witches in the supermarket today...which is a sure sign that we are counting down to Sankt Hans Aften! ;-)
What is it? A huge event on the Danish social calendar – the night where you go out and celebrate St John's Eve, probably better known as...midsummer! It falls on 23 June – which this year is Thursday. The Danes gather around bonfires, often topped with effigies of witches – the idea being to send them off to North Germany. There are bonfires everywhere. All along the coast and beaches, in parks and forests and in town centres. Normally around 9.30pm or 10pm, when it’s still light.
But, hey, let’s backtrack a little! The evening usually starts with people gathering – perhaps with a picnic – down at the beach or in the forest. The evening officially starts with a short Sankt Hans Tale or “Bål Tale” (bonfire speech) by a local dignitary or ‘personality’. And then the singing can start. Sometimes with live music from an orchestra or band. And, if you’re very lucky, a songsheet, so you can join in the singalong! 🙂
You’ll be singing Midsommervisen. A.k.a. Vi elsker vort land. “We love our country.” Last year we also sang I Danmark er jeg født (“In Denmark I was born”) and Der er et yndigt land (“There is a lovely land”) which you might recognise as the Danish national anthem.
Here's a sneak peak of what you can expect, starting with the traditional version of Midsommervisen...
...and here's the modern version by Shubidua.
Whichever version you prefer, sing up, take care and have a great night. And watch out for those low flying witches overhead...