Sankt Hans Aften

Our last night in Copenhagen coincided with Sankt Hans Aften, or, St. John’s Eve – the Danish celebration of the summer solstice.

We had heard that there would be a bonfire on the lake in Tivoli, and dashed out to grab something to eat on our way down. But, as we walked toward Peblinge Sø (one of the lakes separating our neighborhood from the center of Copenhagen), we began to notice throngs of people convening.


At first, I thought that they were just out enjoying the warm summer evening. But, once we reached the lake, it became clear that they were descending upon this particular spot for a reason.


That’s when we saw the giant pyre bobbing on the lake. There was no need to run down to Tivoli! We could watch the bonfire here.

We grabbed some crêpes wrapped in tin foil and settled into a spot on Nørre Søgade (a boulevard bordering the lake on the east side), down by the water. It felt like the whole town was there – parents skipping stones with their children, lovers cuddling, newly minted graduates proudly donning their studenterhue (white caps worn by high school grads).


The crowd cheered as the fire was lit. We felt unbelievably cozy huddled, watching the embers on the lake as the sun set. Then we drifted back over the lake across a bridge packed with friends laughing, dancing and drinking beer, carrying the scent of smoke on our clothes even into the next morning. We thought it was a perfect form of celebration, and a perfect way to end our time in Denmark.


Sunday we will hop on a plane to our next destination…Naples! Any tips for what to see or do there, or along the Amalfi coast?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!


Categories: Ritual, Travel

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