Officials with the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, say they have several unique events planned to celebrate the longest day of the year and one of their temporary exhibits.
Each year, Danes mark the summer solstice with a celebration known as Sankt Hans Aften, or “St. John’s Eve.”
Museum of Danish America celebrating Sank Han Aften,
Before Christianity came to Denmark, Scandinavian peoples celebrated the longest day as a supernatural struggle between light and dark, heat and cold. Since the feast day of Saint John the Baptist occurred on June 23rd, near the date of the annual summer solstice, the Christian Church emphasized this celebration in Scandinavia. Today, the celebration typically involves bonfires late into the night and singing of traditional songs.
The museum’s main exhibit at the moment is Skål! Scandinavian Spirits, which tells of the history and traditions of drinking culture in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Programs have been planned that will join Midsummer and the exhibit’s topic into a fun series of events:
On Thursday, June 25 a free, public Brown Bag Lunch presentation will be given by Lexi, owner of Old Ballard Liquor Company in Seattle, Washington. Lexi lent her expertise on Scandinavian aquavit [Aqua-Veet] (a flavored spirit) to the exhibit and will share some of that knowledge with program attendees from noon to 1 p.m.
Then, on Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27th, Lexi and Deb Christensen Larsen, Development Manager at the museum and an aquavit do-it-yourself expert, will hold two aquavit workshops. From 2- 5 p.m., workshop participants will learn about the history, production, and traditions of Scandinavian aquavit and also learn how to flavor their own. For registration and other details for the workshops, contact Tova Brandt at 712-764-7001 [or firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Finally, a Sankt Hans Aften Celebration sponsored by Shelby County State Bank and Hy-Vee will be held from 6 – 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 27th. Activities for the celebration include a fire-roasted hot dog supper beginning at 6 p.m., live old-time country music from 7-9 p.m., bicycle jousting for kids and adults from 7-9 p.m., and a showing of a family-friendly Danish film “Antboy” at 7 p.m.
The film centers around 12-year-old Pelle, who accidentally gets bitten by an ant and develops unimaginable superpowers. The film is in Danish with English subtitles and is 77 minutes long. It will be shown in the Bro Dining Room. The traditional lighting of the Sankt Hans Aften bonfire will be held at sunset – approximately 9 p.m. All Sankt Hans Aften activities are free will donation and are open to the public. Scandinavian heritage is not required to have a good time!
For more information about these activities, visit danishmuseum.org or call (712) 764-7001.