Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sankt Hansaftern - Midsummers Eve

Sankt Hansaften is something not know in America. I think we should make it a new holiday in US. Sankt Hans Day is June 24th and like other holidays in Denmark, the celebration is on the aften or THE EVE. The primary guest at this celebration is a bonfire near or on the beach. This is easy because there is no place in Denmark that is less than one half hour from a body of water.

This bonfire burned for three days. There must have been some actual trees in it. And it was not even at the beach. It was just down the road from my cousin AK's home.

This is the first Sankt Hansaften celebration I attended in 2001. At 11 PM the sun finally set and we walked to the bonfire after a sit down dinner for 20 people. We could see the fjord and the beach. We sang the Danish National Anthem around the fire. Here is THE METRICAL English translation. There are no bombs dropping in this song. It is the land of Freya, a woman who founded it. The Vikings are dead and honored and peace is cherished here now. In the video watch for the picture of the St. Hansaften bonfire.

There is a lovely land with spreading, shady beeches            
Near salty Baltic strand :                     
Its hills and valleys gently fall, its ancient name is Denmark,
And it is Freya's hall :                                                                       
There in the ancient days the armoured Vikings rested
Between their bloody frays :
Then they went forth the foe to face, now found in stone-set barrows,
Their final resting place
This land is still as fair, the sea is blue around it,
And peace is cherished there :                            
Strong men and noble women still uphold their country's honour
With faithfulness and skill.


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