The feast of St John the Baptist is celebrated on the 24th of June. However, in Denmark, it is the evening before, the 23rd, that is the most important. This is the time that they celebrate their midsummer, or Sankt Hans. The celebration seems to be quite a big deal to Danes, so yesterday Michael and I cycled (yes cycled!) over to the Danish YMCA to take part in the celebrations.
On arrival, uppermost on our things to do was of course food. We went over to the barbeque section where we had frikadeller, with potato salad and ‘normal’ salad. I must admit that ‘normal’ does not do it justice though! I am not the biggest fan of salads, but I really liked the one offered there.
We settled down to eat close to the bonfire that had been set up and relaxed a bit in the area. I must admit that I always find it surprising that whenever we’ve been to any Danish event practically no one talks to you. Even if you start a conversation, they say what they have to say and then go off. I find this strange as I would normally expect people to take an interest in the new people around. However, as Michael suggested, it could be that we have always been to the ‘big events’, so that there are so many people, including new people, that everyone sticks to their own group. In this case I didn’t mind it as much as it meant that Michael and I could sit and relax and chat about some projects without any rush.
The real proceedings however started as the sun was close to setting. First up was an opera singer singing from a first floor window. I found this a bit weird – not least for health and safety reasons…do they allow anything like this in H&S focussed UK?? I am pleased to inform you that the singer and her musicians survived wholly ;).
Next up was a speech…the traditional Sankt Has speech. The speech was given by a Danish priest who was in London for five years. Apparently she spoke about life after London…but I couldn’t understand anything as it was…of course…in Danish.
It was then the big moment…the lighting of the bonfire! The bonfire was built on a rocky bit in the middle of the garden, and had a witch placed on top – a tradition which started in the beginning of the 20th century. The whole thing really caught fire quickly, and after having been shivering a bit, and soon got warm…very warm…too warm? We then sung Midsummer song, or Midsommervise, before cycling back home.
An enjoyable evening…even if I might not want to repeat it too often…unfortunately I don’t understand Danish!