Norsk 101: Sankthansaften

St. John’s Eve

sankthansaften

Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB
Sankthansaften—St. Hans’ Eve or St. John’s Eve is celebrated all over Norway on June 23 each year. Here a large bonfire burns at the waterfront in Drøbak, Norway.

Brought to you by Christie Ericson

Sankthansaften (St. Hans’ Eve / St. John’s Eve) feires 23. juni (is celebrated on June 23) over hele Norge (all over Norway). For mange (For many) er sankthansaften en kveld (St. Hans’ Eve is a night) for å feire sommeren (to celebrate summer) med store bål og godt selskap (with large bonfires and good company). 

Den folkelige feiringen (The popular celebration) har tradisjonelt involvert (has traditionally involved) leker (games), konkurranser (competitions) og dans rundt sankthansbålet (and dancing around the St. Hans’ bonfire). Som mange andre norske tradisjoner (Like many other Norwegian traditions) er sankthansaften en blanding av (St. Hans’ Eve is a mixture of) hedenske og kristne tradisjoner (pagan and Christian traditions).

Sankthans (St. Hans) er en kristelig høytid (is a Christian holiday) til minne om (commemorating) døperen Johannes’ fødsel (the birth of John the Baptist). Ifølge Det nye testamentet (According to the New Testament) ble han født seks måneder før Jesus (he was born six months before Jesus). Døperen Johannes er kjent som (John the Baptist is known as) «Sankt Hans» i Danmark (St. Hans in Denmark). [Hans er en forkortelse for Johannes (Hans is an abbreviation for Johannes)].

Sankthansaften sammenfaller med sommersolverv (St. Hans’ Eve coincides with the summer solstice), den lengste dagen i året (the longest day of the year). Denne dagen snur solen (On this day the sun turns) og dagene blir stadig kortere (and the days get shorter and shorter).

Magiske hendelser (Magical events) og overtro (and superstitions) er ofte knyttet til sankthansaften (are often linked to St. Hans’ Eve). Man trodde (It was believed) at alle slags vekster (that all kinds of plants) hadde en ekstra kraft ved sankthans (had an extra power at St. Hans). Noen steder (In some places) var det tradisjon (it was a tradition) for å pynte huset (to decorate the house) med løv og villblomster (with leaves and wild flowers) for å verne og velsigne huset (to protect and bless the house). 

Å brenne bål sankthansaften (Burning a bonfire on St. Hans’ Eve) var opprinnelig en skikk (was originally a custom) som skulle fordrive onde makter (to drive away evil forces). Tradisjonelt skulle sankthansbålet være stort (Traditionally, the St. Hans bonfire should be large) og på et høyt punkt for å gjøre det godt synlig (and at a high point to make it clearly visible). 

Slinningsbålet (The Slinning bonfire) utenfor Ålesund (outside Ålesund) er et av verdens mest kjente sankthansbål (is one of the most famous bonfires in the world) som samler hundrevis av tilskuere hver sankthansaften (attracting hundreds of spectators every Midsummer’s Eve). I 2016 satte Slinningsbålet ny verdensrekord i høyde med 47,39 meter (In 2016, the Slinningsbålet set a new world record in height with 155.5 feet).

See also “Midtsommer vs. sankthans” by M. Michael Brady in the June 15, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American.

 

This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Christie Ericson

Christie Ericson is an academic librarian living in Anchorage, Alaska. She has a background in languages and linguistics and has been fulfilling her lifelong dream of learning the Norwegian language. She also serves as the cultural director and librarian at her local Sons of Norway lodge and is completely addicted to Selbu mitten knitting.