Summer in Denmark is confusing. You hear rumours beyond forecasts and throw a little prayer, a coin. It comes and goes. It could be summer for 5 hours or for one whole glorious day. A whole day! You must continue to put your hand outside the window to feel the temperature of the breeze (seconds before you go out to your happy plan). Because your forecast apps are useless and you must do that physical verification with a suspicious grin. Because all happy plans on this season are weather related and you should always aim for the outside setting first. Always.
It is that season! The absolute best season. (is it?).
And no matter how summery is your summer, send texts with suns and flowers and go to a midsummer bonfire.
Midsummer in Denmark is the 22nd because that is how it is. Traditions are not to be questioned. It is related to witches and lutherans, but at this point, it is not important. All you need to know is that you can buy a beer, find some friends or neighbours to hug (or not), and be grateful. Smile. Put your best summer smile on and live on to tell the story. It will be epic. On midsummer, dare to stay, even if it rains.
It will hit you with deep joy and a solemn nationalistic song. Happy tears. Collective gratefulness for that summer night that might or might not be warm, but hey, good friends are there for you in the bad times. And the sun is your friend. He is good and sexy. He has surprised you, coming and going everyday, always with his first-day-outfit, unpredictable, unfaithful but charmingly honest, with a rose. Tonight you shall be there and trust. When the forecast is right about everything, it is not.
I was on a midsummer night celebration yesterday for the first time. I saw a massive bonfire, smelled the smoke and wet wood, heard that song (like a whisper followed by an echo), and felt hope somehow. I can think of that still moment, a photograph: everyone standing (still) while singing a murmur, a buzz that moved softly like a flag on the wind. Stillness. And I woke up today to a surreal cloud, the smoke that was left behind. Today is that day-after nostalgia, thick and tangible, that touches your face and wet eyes. My two years in Denmark and my community have the shape of a midsummer moment. I looked around and I realised I knew many of those faces from Aurelio’s daycare, from the supermarket, from the local cafe. The ones that had smiled with me through winter should also be embraced on this endless light and with all the magic of traditions: lines of reference. We hold hands in imaginary ways. I will always remember Kurt, my sailor neighbour, walking around the fire, his hipster hat and white hair, hugging second chances and his girlfriend, the love he lost and found again. His eyes sparkling. And hers. I will remember the rain, the grey sky, and then the bits of blue that contrasted with the green of the forest and a rainbow. I will remember Stephan, the way he said “al’right”, his states of contemplation, the fire in his eyes. I will remember it all.
Two years later life is happening in Denmark. Home is here. It will be all right. Hygge, an old buddy that feels like deep joy, will take me back home, to my heart, always. Thank you, sun. Thank you blossoming forest for this wet warm night. Thank you, Sankte Hans.
Thank YOU, Denmark.
Notice hopeful danes doing summer under the grey sky. 😉
Nike (the shoe) would say: Just do it.