27 June 2009
The Danish Midsommer celebrations are a highlight in the summer season. This ancient celebration of the summer solstice is as old as homo sapiens. In Denmark it's called Saint Hans Evening and it takes place on the 23rd of June each year. But remove the recent religious hijacking and it's still just a pure celebration of nature and of summer. These two Copenhageners are heading for Frederiksberg Gardens for the midsommer festivities.
Traditionally, Danes light bonfires at around 22:00 and burn an effigy of a witch - more recent religious hijacking of ancient traditions - but the important thing is that all across the nation people gather together on beaches and in parks to enjoy a lovely evening. Often dressed in style and arriving on bicycle, as the above photo attests.
Here's the family heading home in the late evening light. The kids are trashed at this point but there's no place like a Bullitt to ride home in.
In Frederiksberg Gardens, in the heart of Copenhagen, around 60,000 people gathered to picnic, sing traditional songs, hear speeches and then watch the bonfire. It's an amazing experience. I'll admit that we left a bit early because of the kids and many people show up just in time for the bonfire. Friends who stayed later reported that the number of bicycles parked out at the main entrance was like nothing they'd ever seen before. And these are Copenhageners. The weather was hot and lovely, so that encouraged more people to get out an enjoy it. Here's the bikes from last year, same place. May give you an idea.
I'll bet that more than half of the 60,000 people came by bike, if not more. And that's just here. Then there's all the other midsommer celebrations around the city.
Incidentally, tradition dictates that girls must pick flowers on this day and place them under their pillows. Then they'll dream of their future husband. And you fancy bettering your odds for good health, you may want to lick the dew off the grass this day. It'll help. Honest.
I love summer in Copenhagen.