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Midsummer Eve Bonfires and Witches

Happy as a Dane

7DD37C30-D120-49F0-9796-75D61D8DA2B2 Sankt Hans Evening (St. John’s Eve) bonfire on the beach in Tisvildeleje, Denmark, 2013

Last night the Danes celebrated Sankt Hans Evening (St. John’s Eve) with bonfires and witches! This was originally a pagan celebration of summer solstice and the magical shortest night of the year but after the introduction of Christianity it also became the celebration of John the Baptist’s birthday which is supposedly today June 24th.

There used to be a lot of superstition related to this night. Mean witches were scared away and sick people went to holy springs hoping their illnesses would be cured on this night where light was stronger than darkness. As a symbol of chasing evil forces away Danes burned a hay witch on top of the bonfire – a practice that is still very common in Denmark! Danes jokingly say that on the evening of Sankt Hans: “the witches are being sent…

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