Red Deer Danish Canadian Club

Proud Member of the Federation of Danish Associations in Canada


St. Hans Fest

In Denmark, the celebration of the summer solstice is called Sankt Hans aften ("St. John's Eve"). It was an official holiday until 1770, 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 June 23. 

It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings by visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today the water well tradition is gone. Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional.  In the 1920s a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the "witch" away to Bloksbjerg, the mountain Brocken in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.

St. Hans Fest is celebrated by our club on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice and is a family event.  Our traditions involve lots of old fashioned kids' games such as tug-o-war and sack races and games for the older 'kids' such as beer frisbee.  The club supplies the pork and attendees bring pot luck which always guarantees a terrific meal.

At dusk, the huge bonfire is lit, songs are sung,  and the crowd cheers when the flames get high enough to engulf the witch.

Sounds kind of scary, but it's really a lot of fun and the mood of the evening is definitely up tempo!


St. Hans party 2019

Supper time with traditional pickled herring with curry sauce and Snaps (Aquavit) as first course, then pork roast with various delicious sides and deserts.

Before the bonfire we had some fun entertainment - first the Fastelavns tønde had to be taken care of, since the arranged Fastelavns party in March got cancelled, we needed to free the cat at some point...

Some outdoor fun got everyone to move outside and kids of all ages was having fun!


Finally the bonfire was started and very soon our "witch" lit on fire and flew off to Brocken (Bloksbjerg) 


See you in June!