Monday, 20 June 2011
Happy Solstice to all
I wish you all a very happy solstice! At least here in the Northern hemisphere it's the longest day today, with the sun rising at 4:26am and setting at 21:59 in the garden, making the day 10 hours and 44 minutes longer than the shortest day this past winter...
This is the wonder of living in the North, even if it's not even the far North; we might have dismally long, dark winter nights, but we also have these white nights where even in the middle of the night we only get a sort of murky twilight but never darkness.
In Denmark we celebrate the solstice a few days late, on the Eve of St. john. On this night bonfires are light throughout the country but especially along the beaches, and to me that is a very special tradition. When I lived in London I once celebrated St. John's Eve by flying to Denmark on the 23rd to go to a bonfire by the beach and then back again the next day.
There are all sorts of ancient superstitions connected with the bonfires; they're supposed to scare away the forces of evil and should in this way help secure the harvest later on, but they also have a sinister echo of barbaric executions, as it is tradition to place a doll representing a witch on top of the bonfire. I've never really been keen on that, really... I much prefer the more recent tradition where this year's high school graduates throw their notes from the past three years into the bonfire; seems less morbid, somehow, than re-enacting an execution by burning.
The bonfire, however, is a wonderful celebration of light, which is of course also at the origin of Christmas celebrations, and as I won't have time to go up to the garden on Thursday evening to attend the community bonfire on the beach there, instead I shall go tonight and have my own little solstice celebration, though perhaps without a bonfire but with lots of sunshine according to the local forecast. I can then go to one of the many bonfires in Copenhagen on Thursday if the weather is nice.
So once again, a very happy solstice to all, whether it is the summer or winter solstice where you are.