Saint Hans—Midsummer Celebration in Denmark

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© Painting by P.S. Krøyer: Sct. Hans-blus på Skagen, 1906; owned by Skagen Museum.

The celebration of the summer solstice in Denmark dates back to pagan times, but became known as Saint Hans (Saint John's Eve) after the arrival of Christianity. The painting is by P.S. Krøyer, a famous Danish painter who was part of the community of painters in Skagen at the turn of the 20th century. Skagen is an old fishing village at the very northern-most tip of the European continent where Skagerak strait meets the North Sea. Painters viewed the light at Skagen as being very special and hence chose to live and paint there. The most unusual lighting of all is the lighting around midsummer, when the sun doesn't set until 10:30 p.m. and rises again at 3 a.m. In between it is not really dark; rather there is a metallic-blue night sky. This special lighting makes midsummer a very special time of year. (Unit: 7)