The summer solstice just occurred, bringing not only an extrodinarily long day here in Denmark (17 hours 33 minutes!) but also an age-old and entertaining tradition called ‘sankthans’ or Saint John’s Eve, after John the Baptist from the Bible.
It consisted of people gathering together on the beaches and waterfronts of all kinds and lighting massive bonfires. Erected in the middle of these bonfires are fake witches, yes, witches! As an homage to the witch burnings of the 16th century they put the witches in to burn and light off firecrackers that sound like screams. After you get over the creepy factor of it all it was actually a rollicking good time, with marshmellows being roasted, a folk duo serenading the crowd, and many relaxed Danes sharing the beach as the sun finally set late into the night.
It was surreal to be amongst the Danes as the embers crackled and popped and the sun sank, ingniting the sky a beautiful burnt orange. A mist of rain revealed a full rainbow arching over the sky and as the folk tunes drifted over the entranced crowd it felt almost like a 4th of July gathering back home…but with witches.