I once ‘celebrated’ summer solstice with my friends in a field with very sweet wine, a great deal of talk about the possibilities of time travel and a lot of games of shag, marry, kill. I’d like to point out that this is not the official way the British celebrate the solstice but it’s the only way I’d celebrated it, up until I got to Denmark.
The beach was the first port of call when MrC and I arrived in Jerup, Denmark. We had even booked a accommodation that was metres from the sea just so we could hear the waves and smell that smell. Being landlocked in Germany means we need at least a once yearly dose of saltwater, it’s a need. The beach was fantastic, and as we enjoyed our first sunset with a bottle of wine we didn’t even notice the piles of branches further down the beach.
As we did some exploring in the next few days, we kept seeing piles of branches on the beaches. Maybe it’s a beach tidying time of year? Google had a better answer however, which also explained why there were so many extended families in the neighbouring properties mid week.
Sankt Hans Afen or St John’s eve is celebrated on June 23rd in Denmark. Summer solstice time. And the Danes enjoy a good bonfire to celebrate the longest day and to scare off those pesky witches and bad spirits (who might just be hanging around up to no good). Now those piles of branches made sense, especially which looked to have an effigy on top.
We did, what everyone did on the 23rd, and headed to the beach to see some fire. The weather was perfect, it had been quite hot through the day and both of us were a little sunkissed. MrC went swimming and lay on the beach in his shorts, totally horrifying the ski jacketed German tourists nearby, whilst I only did some paddling in a T-shirt.
As the sun began to set we could see billowing smoke from further along the coast.
All of a sudden there were more people on the beach. Travelling from bonfire to bonfire. Lighting the branches and watching them burn.
The bonfires burn fast and intense, then they are gone. Thankfully the wind was pushing the smoke out to sea, but we had opted to stay at a safe distance anyway.
After the sun set we sat out on the sand, listened to the water, plotted to stay forever and live in a beach hut, scared a fox, got jumped on my toads and had a very special midsummers eve.
Bonfires don’t just appear on beaches but in city parks and fields as well, sometimes accompanied by a funfair and fireworks. Scandinavia is one of my all time favourite holiday destinations. As soon as we left I started planning a return trip. For now I’ll be blogging some of our adventures here.
Does your country have a special summer solstice tradition?