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Sonnenwendfeier Summer Solstice Celebration

It’s the time of year where we German Kiwis would like to ‘beam’ ourselves to Germany for a quick warm-up. And we are sure a lot of other people from Down Under wouldn’t mind enjoying summer rather than winter temperatures right now…

As New Zealanders just celebrated Matariki (Maori New Year) and possibly held a midwinter celebration, Germans enjoyed their annual midsummer festival called “Sonn(en)wendfeier” marking the summer solstice, or longest day of the year.

The marking of the summer solstice dates back to pre-Christian, pagan times across northern Europe. Stonehenge, for instance, was erected in England to mark the “Sonnenwende” (solstice), which occurs twice per year – the “Wintersonnenwende” (winter solstice) on December 21 or 22, and the “Sommersonnenwende” (summer solstice), marked from June 20 to 23 (or a later date, depending on the country in question).

The midsummer festival is sometimes also referred to as “Johannisfest” as it was dedicated to the birth of John (Johannes) the Baptist. It is celebrated in many locations with a dance around the “Johannisfeuer” (a big, blazing bonfire).

Villagers, for instance, might gather around such a fire on a field in the northern German states of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony or Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. They will hang out together at the fire, which might become the center of a local “Volksfest” with sausages, beer and other items for sale. In the Alps near Munich the locals carry wood up to the summits of the highest peaks and light bonfires on them – a truly impressive spectacle!

Use your chance to escape winter and enjoy the European summer on a Sidetracks Tour to Germany :-).

 

Author: Barbara Panettieri

Sources:

http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/__pr/GIC/TWIG__WoW/2012/24-Sonnenwendfeier.html

http://ggmtours.com/things/glossary.html

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