Sankthansaften – Norway’s Summer Solstice

Just love Skagenrøre on an open sandwich! I never knew it originated in 1957. This is a wonderful post from Arctic Grub on the traditions and food of Scandinavia. Thanks for sharing this information.


While the international world hears of “Midsummer” celebrations in Sweden, Norwegians have a similar celebration on the same day referred to as “Sankthansaften”, also sometimes called “Jonsok”. This was thought to be the birthday of Johannes the Baptist. “Jon” comes from “Johannes” and the ending “ok” is a derivative of “Jonsvaka”, meaning the church would lie awake the night before, awaiting Jon’s birth.

The midsummer day has however most likely originated from pagan times and is one of our oldest customs, a celebration of when the summer sun turns. Decorations like birch branches and rowanberries, and branches of bird cherries were placed above each cow in the barn – the latter was said to avoid the trolls and any other supernatural powers from having any power over the cattle. People were also told to make sure nobody took their brooms!


This night was riddled with superstition, as one story from…

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About Forestwoodfolk

Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. I have Scandinavian, Frisian and Prussian/Silesian ancestry and for that reason, I feel a connection with that part of the world. I am an avid Nordic Crime fiction reader, and enjoy photography, writing and a variety of cooking and crafts, and traditional decorative art forms. Politically aware and egalitarian by nature, I have a strong environmental bent.
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