Sunday, July 11, 2010

When in Denmark... (we do as the Danes do!) – Part II: We celebrate Midsummer’s Eve

Up here in Denmark, people celebrate Midsummer’s Eve, referred to as Sankt Hans Aften in Danish, meaning “the evening of Saint John”. This is a pagan celebration, dating back to Celtic times, that was subsequently taken over by Christians. On June 23rd, all over Denmark, people gather around big bonfires (usually set near or on water) to sing some songs and have some good BBQ time with friends and family. Interestingly, the same tradition exists in the Alsace region where Q is from, probably because of shared Celtic roots.

This past June 23rd, Q went down to the little harbor, where he had spotted where the bonfire would happen there a few days before. That was his last evening in Denmark until flying out to the DC area for the wedding of C’s sister (C was already over there by then).

Around 9pm, people were well into their BBQ and singing together around the fire. It was, again, a very convivial event, that the Danes seem to have a secret for. People were lining up the jetties, some were barbecuing on their boats, and since night is so short up here at this time of year, many people were heading out to sea after the singing, so around 9:30-10pm! The smoke of similar bonfires could be seen all along the coastline, north or Aarhus.

Didn’t feel lonely though in spite of C’s absence, as Q bumped into Rodrigo, his Colombian friend from the Danish class, who was there with a Danish friend. Rodrigo was going back to Colombia two days later, so this pleasant event also made for a great way for both him and Q to meet again and celebrate before their upcoming travels to far-away places!

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