Thursday, 25 June 2015

Sankthans in Kristiansand

Sankthans (St Hans) is a special day in Norway which is the 24th of June but Norwegians like to celebrate it the night before with bonfires. It is also mid summer night where the sun starts to turn and days start to get shorter.

Large bonfire in the city.
Shorter - being Nordic, shorter means from many hours of daylight in the summer (0400 - 2330) back to normal hours of daylight.

What is St Hans - it is the anniversary of John the Baptist's birth.

John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam and Mandaeism who is described as having the unique practice of baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

Waiting for the fire to be lit.
Old customs
It is fire that is the most common way to celebrate this event which dates back hundreds of years. Traditionally it was normal practice to jump through a fire or roll a burning wheel down a hill. Most Norwegians celebrate this day with a trip on the boat because the coastline is dotted with many bonfires overlooking the fjords and sea.

Just some of the boats that were watching the bonfire in Kristiansand.
The tradition of burning is said to protect people from evil powers. The flames from the fires look like the sun which would reinforce its power. If tradition is strictly ahdered to, people need to start the fire by rubbing two pieces of wood against each other, or spin a stick in a hole with tinder. 

On the way into the city.
Occasionally you will see old rag dolls on the top of bonfires which symbolises protection against witches that day. 

Here in Kristiansand, my family and I lite a big fire by the boat house and then take our boat along the river into the city to check out other bonfires.

Lots of people at fiskebrygga.
The biggest ones we get to see are usually at Hamresanden and in the city by the water. The kids love it and we usually stay out until midnight slowly taking the boat back home before it is too dark.

The kids love any excuse for a late night!

Adam @ Visit Sørlandet

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