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Sankt Hans aften
In Denmark the solstice* celebration is called Sankt Hans aften ("St. John's Eve").In accordance with the Danish tradition of celebrating a holiday on the evening before the actual day, it takes place on the evening of 23 June. It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings by visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today Sankt Hans aften is celebrated with bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and the Midsommervise (Midsummer hymn) called "Vi elsker vort land" ("We Love Our Country"). In the 1920s a tradition of putting a witch made of straw on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the "witch" away to Bloksbjerg, the Brocken mountain in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.
*The summer solstice is the day the sun reaches its highest point in the Northern Hemisphere's sky.
Maj-Britt Vittrup Nielsen