The Dannebrog Danish flag (literally translated: Danish cloth) has a long tradition and an exciting history, celebrating its 800th anniversary in 2019, it’s one of the oldest flags in the world! Here is the story of how and where the Danish people have received the flag:
It was on June 15, 1219. King Waldemar II fought in the Battle of Lyndanisse – now Tallinn – against the heathen Estonians. When the fight was almost lost, the sky opened and a huge flag (a really huge flag) fell on the ground and destroyed the Estonians. The Danish people have received their well-known red and white flag in this way and no other way.
Today the flag is shown everywhere: at birthdays, at funerals, when picking up loved ones from the airport, for school enrollment, at weddings, for divorce – actually there is no opportunity where you cannot use the Danish flag. Many Danes seethe flag as a garland or simply a beautiful ornament.
But of course, there are a few rules:
- the flag may not touch the ground when hoisting
- a worn flag should be replaced immediately.
- You cannot
hoistany other flag besidesthe flags of the Nordic countries, the EU and the UN next to the Danish flag.
There is also a 64-page guide to the use of the flags in Denmark – the Danes love their flag.
In Denmark, the celebration of the summer solstice is called Sankt Hans Aften (“St. John’s Eve”) or St. Hans fest. It was an official holiday until 1770, and in accordance with the Danish tradition of celebrating a holiday on the evening before the actual day, it takes place on the evening of June 23.
It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings by visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today the water well tradition is gone. Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional. In the 1920s, a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church’s witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the “witch” away to Bloksbjerg, the mountain Brocken in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.
Sankt Hans Aften is celebrated by a camp-out on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice (Midsummer) and is a family event. Our traditions involve a horseshoe tournament, kids’ games and sammenkomst (potluck lunch).
At dusk, a huge bonfire is lit, songs are sung, snøbrod is baked on a stick and the crowd cheers when the flames get high enough to consume the witch.
Sounds a bit scary, but it’s really a lot of fun for all! Join us!!