The prospect of wet conditions threaten to damper the celebration for those who will light bonfires this weekend to commemorate Sankthansaften (St. John’s Eve), also known as Jonsok. And in Norway, that is just about everybody. The purists who opt to light their fires on Sankthansaften on Thursday will probably have the best luck when it comes to the weather.
The forecast for the weekend does not look particularly promsiing, especially in the south.
“It will get pretty wet. We see signs of a good deal of rain showers beginning in the south and moving northward. In Western Norway, everything suggests rain already in the early hours of Friday. There is also a risk of thunder,” Frode Hassel at the Meteorological Institute in Bergen said.
Later in the day Friday there will be even more rain.
“The rainy weather will start already on Friday in most places throughout the country, with a great deal of rainfall of up to 25 millimeters in the western regions,” Hassel said.
Summer holidays have begun for many Norwegians, but it may be wise to keep the swimsuit in the drawer for awhile still.
Saturday’s forecast will improve some and those who want to light their bonfires them should have fairly good conditions in many places.
“There will be signs of local showers in both the Eastern and Western Norway, but it looks like mostly dry weather throughout the day, especially in the western parts of the country,” the meteorologist said.
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Sankthansaften is Norway’s celebration of midsummer. It takes its name from the St. Hans, the Danish name for John the Baptist, who according to Christian tradition was born six months before Jesus. With Christmas celebrated on December 24th in Norway, that puts John’s birthday on June 24th.
Unlike the Swedes, who prefer to dance around a pole, Norwegians celebrate the holiday by lighting bonfires. It’s not quite as popular in Norway as it is in Denmark to burn effigies of witches upon the flames, but there are still many places in Norway that will set a witch figure alight as part of the celebrations.
If they can get the fires lit amidst all that rain, that is.