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Denmark - Midsummer Eve

Description In Denmark the solstitial celebration is called Sankt Hans aften ("St. John's Eve"). It was an official holiday until 1770 and in accordance with the Danish tradition of celebrating a holiday on the evening before the actual day, it takes place on the evening of June 23. It is the day where the medieval wise men and women (the doctors of that time) would gather special herbs that they needed for the rest of the year to cure people.

It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings and of Odin and Thor, by visiting healing water sources and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today the water source tradition is gone. Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional, although bonfires are built in many other places where beaches may not be close by (i.e. on the shores of lakes and other waterways, parks, etc.). In the 1920s a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witchburnings from 1540 to 1693 (but unofficially a witch was lynched as late as 1897). This burning sends the witch to Bloksbjerg, the mountain 'Brocken' in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.
Date Mon, June 23, 2008
Repeat Type Yearly
Priority 5-Medium
Access Public
Category National Holiday*
Created by Gary Hill
Updated Mon, May 19, 2008 7:15pm GMT
Participants National Holidays
Attachments None
Comments None