Sunday, June 24, 2012

Burn witch, burn!

In medieval times, wise men and women spent Sankt Hans Aften gathering herbs for healing the sick during the coming year. Until 1770, it was an official holiday. And 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. In the 1920s a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth (probably made by the elder women of the family) on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. Today, it’s another excuse to drink and have barbecues around a bonfire in a country where the beer doesn’t seem to stop flowing. -RS