Yesterday was ‘Sankthans’ (St. John’s), the Danish midsummer feast (actually, today is his feast, but we have a tradition that we celebrate such events on the night before – similarly, our Christmas falls on December 24). The shortest day in the year was traditionally considered holy in ‘heathen’ times, and small fires were lit to ward off evil. In the 1860s German craftsmen imported their tradition of burning a figure (made from wicker and cloth) portraying a witch, sending her off to Mount Brocken. The huge bonfire that we use today is probably from the same period. Since the early 1900s we have also added the tradition of singing the Midsummer’s Song (the painting below shows the bonfire at the time when the song was introduced) and giving a speech. It’s a cosy little ritual that feels very Danish.

But actually I celebrated St. John’s a little early this year, by meeting a few close friends and brothers, people I have been in touch with while away, all very much dedicated to freemasonry. Seeing them was so great! The lodges do not open their doors until September, and I’m starving for it all, so this was a great opportunity to get back into the mindset, the latest gossip and the heavy discussions.

The year is turned. Light is coming.


Picture: Midsummer bonfire on Skagen beach in 1903, by P. S. Krøyer

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