Midsummer – Viking Style!

27 Jun

All over Denmark on Saturday night people gathered around bonfires to celebrate midsummer. The Danes have many traditions and customs, and Sankt Hans Aften, as it is called, is one of the big ones – although not as big as Christmas. However, I think Sankt Hans is particularly special to the Danes because they get to burn stuff. They are descended from the Vikings, after all.

I’m told the tradition originally hails from Germany, where on midsummer great fires were lit to drive witches, trolls and evil spirits in general to Bloksbjerg mountain – lair of the devil! Much like the British celebrations on November the 5th, witch dolls are made to be burned on the bonfires and sometimes fireworks called heksehyl (witches’ screams) are thrown into the flames as well. Yes, I know – health and safety is clearly not a concept that has caught on in Denmark.

Before the fire is lit comes the obligatory speech from a local person of importance, delivered by means of cutting-edge technical equipment. Incidences of feedback during which can be incorporated into a fun drinking game to help pass the time.

Following the speech comes the song Midsommervisen. If you are Danish you will be expected to know it by heart, but at our local Sankt Hans aften they very thoughtfully hand out song sheets.

Once all the official duties have been carried out, the general hygge-ing can begin. This typically involves the adults drinking beer and the children playing in the fire. It’s all great fun and the emergency services are hardly ever required.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I did find out that Sankt Hans is actually John the Baptist, although as yet nobody has been able to explain the connection bewteen him and burning witches…

 

Sankthansaften 

Over hele Danmark samlede mennesker sig i lørdags omkring store bål for at fejre midsommer på sankthansaften. Danskerne har mange traditioner og skikke, og den er en af de største – selv om den er ikke så stor som jul. Imidlertid, synes jeg, at sankthansaften er særligt speciel for danskerne, for de har lov til at brænde ting. De nedstammer jo fra vikingerne.

Jeg har fået fortalt, at traditionen oprindelig kommer fra Tyskland. På midsommeraften bliver der tændt store bål for at drive hekse, trolde og onde åndet i almindelighed væk til Bloksbjerg – djævelens bolig.

Lige som den britiske fejring d. 5. november laves der heksedukker for at blive brændt på bålene, og der kastes nogen gange fyrværkeri, der hedder heksehyl, ind i flammerne. Nej, health and safety er slet ikke et koncept, som danskerne har fået fat på.

Før bålet tændes, kommer der den obligatoriske tale fra en lokal person af betydning, som holdes ved at bruge de mest avancerede tekniske hjælpemidler. Forekomster af feedback gennem hele talen kan bruges som et sjovt drikke-spil, der hjælper med at få tiden til at gå.

Efter talen kommer der, selvfølgelig, en sang – ‘Midsommervisen’. Hvis du er dansker, skal du kende den udenad, men ved vores lokale sankthansaften er et sangark hensynsfuldt uddelt til alle.

Når først alle de officielle pligter er blevet udført, kan hyggen omkring bålet begynde. Det involverer typisk, at voksne drikker øl, og børnene leger i ilden. Det er vældig sjovt, og Falck bliver sjældent tilkaldt.

Og hvis I undrer jer, fandt jeg ud af, at Sankt Hans er faktisk Johannes Døberen. Alligevel er der ikke nogen, som kunne forklare forbindelsen mellem ham og brændende hekse…

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2 Responses to “Midsummer – Viking Style!”

  1. Katie Punter June 28, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    This made me laugh right out loud! ‘..and the emergency services are hardly ever required’

    Like

  2. Sheena Gordon June 28, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Hmm. It looks as if the origin of “hex”, as in ” putting a hex on someone” is Danish. Never knew that!

    Like

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