How do you celebrate midsummer.

Nov 2018
349
Denmark
I don't want to hijack the thread about Indo-European languages, where we are some who started discussing how we celebrate midsummer, therefore I start another thread.

In Denmark, we celebrate with huge bonfires all over the place, in the cities everywhere you can find a place complying with the safety distance for bonfire, at the countryside every village, association and often individual families have their own bonfires.

The most popular bonfire that attracts most people is along the coast, perhaps a remnant of ancient times where transitions e.g. between water and land were considered particularly sacred, But no matter why, it's beautiful.

Before the fire is lit, there is a prominent local person holding a speech, then the fire is lit and a specific song "The Midsummer song" is sung

The tradition of celebrating festivals with bonfires is probably as old as the invention of fire.

But in the past, the reason was to chase all the evil from the door, especially witches who should be particularly active this evening, some flew to Brocken in Germany, but the most popular destination for Danish witches was Hekla in Iceland.

In the last hundred years, a custom of burning a witch has been started and school classes compete to make the best-looking witch.

She is put on top of the bonfire and when the fire reaches her, a special kind of howling fireworks explodes, actually called witches howl.

It always arouses great enthusiasm among all the children, who also participate in the party. They are usually included until the fire is almost burnt down. After which the serious side of the party starts; to become really really drunk.

skt_hans_1200x300.jpg
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,057
Italy, Lago Maggiore
In Italy we've got two main traditions connected with summer [at least in the Alpine region, Italy is a set of different regional cultures]. The weekend in the middle of August sees great fireworks, almost everywhere and regarding bonfires, we use to switch them on at the end of summer, in the 2nd or third week of September. It's a way to say "see you" to summer. But we don't burn the witches ... probably because here, during the period of the Inquisition, they burnt witches for real ...
 
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Nov 2018
349
Denmark
But we don't burn the witches ... probably because here, during the period of the Inquisition, they burnt witches for real ...
We did that too, but most after the Reformation in 1536.

About 2,000 people most women were accused of witchcraft, of which 1000 were convicted and burned.

However, the custom of burning a witch doll is more about sending her well off to Brocken.

Before St. Hans evening most Danish women are asked if they have remembered to inspect their brooms, so they can also land safely on Brocken.
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,057
Italy, Lago Maggiore
In Italy witches on brooms are anyway part of the tradition, but they don't fly in summer, the fly in winter, to enter the chimneys to carry sweets or carbon [have your children been good or bad?]. We leave big socks near the chimney on the evening before January 6th ... [reality is that parents put sweets and toys in the socks ...].

As a digression, this is a modern version of the "Befana"

befana53.jpg
 
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