Scan Magazine, Issue 84, January 2016

Page 43

Scan Magazine | Feature | Scandinavian Festivals

Photo: Rodrigo Rivas Ruiz/Imagebank Sweden.

Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank Sweden.

Scandinavian Festivals:

A mix of talent and celebration The word festival originates from the medieval Latin word ‘festivalis’, which derives from the Latin word ‘festum’, which means ‘feast’. In short, a festival is a place one can find an abundance of fun and merriment (and, yes, even food)! By Sara Paulsen

Seen from a Scandinavian historical perspective, a festival celebration revolved around either something religious or a royal figure. But festivals are not Christian events per se. Before Christianity conquered Scandinavia, the Nordic countries had their Viking gods such as Thor, Odin and Freja, and a big deal was made of celebrating the different seasons and wishing for a good harvest. Every May, an old farmer’s tradition comes to life in Sweden when the Summer Solstice, or Midsummer, is celebrated. Girls wearing traditional dress-

es and with flowers braided in their hair sing and dance around a leaf and flower-ornamented pole, traditionally with coloured bands attached to both the pole and the girls’ hands. People sing traditional songs and the whole event is very festive and family friendly indeed. The same of course goes for the Midsummer celebrations in Denmark, where traditionally big bonfires were lit near the coast all over the country and the Christian element of Saint Hans was eventually added. The medieval influences are still represented in the modern day cel-

ebration, whereby a witch-like scarecrow is set on fire. If that sounds scary to you, a tip is to watch the bonfires from the sea. From there, you will be amazed by the coastal fires lighting up all the whole country, with joyous Danes singing along to the traditional and new songs alike.

A patriotic party In Norway, 17 May is a significant and nationwide celebration. The Norwegian constitution was established on this day in Eidsvoll in 1814, and though it has been revised a couple of times since then, it is one of the oldest democratic constitutions in northern Europe and has played a crucial role in shaping modern Norway. There is a true sense of patriotism as Norwegian flags are seen all around during the national celebrations, where both young and old dress up in traIssue 84 | January 2016 | 43

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