Celebrate the Sankt Hans Tradition With Us

18 Jun 2019


Celebrate Midsummer's Eve with the Sankt Hans Danish Tradition

Celebrate with bonfires and barbecues as the shortest night approaches! Midsummer tradition is strong in Scandinavia as the celebration of long summer nights, after equally long winter nights, is very welcome! These celebrations mark the change of season and follows the Catholic celebration of St John. Midsummer's Eve is celebrated all over Europe with the Pagan tradition of the shortest night of the year with bonfires, and the Catholic celebration of St John's Eve (with his birthday being 24th June) being marked as the day to celebrate the saint.

The traditional Catholic Feast day is 24th June, so the Eve (day before) on 23rd June is when the celebrations and parties take place as it is the shortest night of the year. There are fireworks and feasting all over Europe! In Denmark it is known as Sankt Hans Aften (St John's Eve) and since the time of the Vikings it has been a huge celebration to mark midsummer and bring people together. The best place to have a bonfire is of course on the beach, and Denmark has plenty of them. I Copenhagen the bonfires take place in the harbour.

A Traditional Danish Sankt Hans Aften

The traditional celebration involves a witch on top of the bonfire - you can't get more pagan than that! But it is also a festival that celebrates summer, and a great excuse for friends, local drinks, watching sunset and a fire. As with other countries celebrating Midsummer, there is a history of Pagan festivities with witches and bonfires featuring in the night as people ward off evil with fire. There used to be a tradition of gathering magic herbs and getting a bit high but now people mostly have some food and drink to celebrate together, and burn a witch on the top of the bonfire (as the place to burn witches in the Middle Ages).

It wouldn't be a party without food and drinks, especially in Denmark! Us Danes love to celebrate with feasting, and this is usually a time for BBQs and locals spirits and shots of schnapps. There is actually a traditional Midsummer hymn which is called Vi Elsker Vort Land (We Love Our Country) we sing during the bonfire and a speech before lighting it. The tradition goes way back and is strongly followed still every summer!

Celebrate with Bonfires

The bonfires are a highlight of the festival, with lots of pagan symbolism and just a great excuse to get together round the fire. The Prime Minister even gets involved with an official bonfire in Marienborg! If you will be celebrating outside of Copenhagen then check out one of the beach bonfires, or ones along the harbour in the city. To find out about the local celebrations check the newspapers for the latest update.

Copenhagen Downtown Parties

Celebrate Sankt Hans Aften with us at our party in Copenhagen Downunder - our very own venue beneath the hostel.

Barbecue 5pm-7pm - Enjoy a delicious grilled meal for only 50 DKK - straight off the grill!

Cocktail: Witches Brew - Celebrate Midsummer's Eve

Orange juice, lime, and Jägermeister!


Kill the Witch - Knock down the pinata, blindfolded and enjoy a secret prize!!

Live music 19.30-22.00 !There is always a party going on - especially when there is something great to celebrate! Expect an impressive BBQ!

Copenhagen Downtown is the best party hostel in central Copenhagen and number one choice for the Genuine Backpacker. Find out more about the hostel and facilities here, and book yourself a bed in the best place in town! We're also a proud member of Europe's Famous Hostels, a network of the best hostels in Europe. 

We are also part of the Europe's Famous Hostels network, being the hostel of choice for the Genuine Backpacker, as part of a network of over 50 hostels across Europe. Find out more about Famous Hostels here www.famoushostels.com

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