Sankt Hans

Sankt Hans — St. John’s Eve — in the suburb of Valby was lots of fun. All the action took place at the house next door to Luisa’s parents: I arrived to find a sea of children and their parents dining on a buffet of tasty delights. Olle grabbed me a plate, Luisa brought me some wine, and we men hunkered down in the corner for some serious talk with Luisa’s father about Italian wine, urban agriculture, and the similarities of grappa, slivovitz and other distilled beverages.

Halfway through the night one of the big tablers said “who’s the guy from Canada?” and when I raised my hand, and explained I was from Prince Edward Island, I had an instant conversational entrée to the Anne of Green Gables reader across the table. We had a nice chat about U.S. politics, about the difficulties of learning Danish for an English speaker (a topic considerably enhanced by her imminent graduation as a speech-language pathologist) and about whether PEI is as beautiful as L.M. Montgomery wrote it to be (I had to admit that, at least for now, it still is).

Somewhere in there we actually did sing Vi elsker vort land (“We love our country”) — there were song sheets and everything — and also Happy Birthday, or at least the Danish version thereof, as it was one of the wee folk’s day (the big line in this song is “med dejlig chokolade og kager til” — “all with tasty chocolate and cakes.”)

The kids went to bed, the crowd thinned out, some mind-cracklingly good espresso was served to accompany the fruit salad for dessert, and before I knew it it was 10:30 p.m. (although you’d never know it from the light still in the sky at that hour).

I retrieved my plates from the dishwasher — I attempted a reasonable facsimile the Catherine’s standard tapas offerings as my contribution — loaded up the bike, and walked with Olle and Luisa to the train, honoured to again have a backstage pass into regular everyday Danish life.


Hans's picture
Hans on June 25, 2008 - 14:15 Permalink

Your post about Sankt Hans Aften brings back many fond memories of late night sunsets and bonfires in my uncles’ fields. Thank you for writing about your visit(s) to Denmark.