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Summer solstice: Today is Denmark’s lightest day this year

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Summer solstice: Today is Denmark’s lightest day this year
The sky will be light on the evening of June 20th in Denmark. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The summer solstice falls on Wednesday, meaning there will be more daylight hours in Denmark than on any other day this year.

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The summer solstice – the point on the calendar when one of the earth’s poles is most tilted towards the sun – occurs on Wednesday, meaning it will be light for almost three-quarters of the day in Denmark.

Some 17 hours and 32 minutes of daylight will bathe the country, with the exact solstice falling at 10:51pm.

This contrasts to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year on December 21st, when the hours of daylight only total 7.

The summer or June solstice is the day which (in the northern hemisphere) has the most daylight hours and is therefore closely related to midsummer celebrations in northern Europe. 

Of course, passing the solstice means that the days are now getting shorter, so you could say that technically, the dark of winter is already beginning to close in.

Because of Denmark’s relatively northerly location, though, this will happen very slowly – almost imperceptibly so – to begin with.

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In the first days after the solstice, there will only be a few seconds’ change in the length of the day. By June 30th, the day will be around a minute shorter than it is on June 20th.

While Denmark does not have a traditional midsummer celebration, the calendar milestone is closely linked to the Danish celebration of Sankt Hans Aften on June 23rd.

A celebration marking the shortest night of the year, Sankt Hans night is infused with customs that harken back to darker and more superstitious times in Denmark's history. 

The traditional bonfires and singing in chorus on June 23rd are a community event valued by many across the country, with thousands of Sankt Hans bonfires taking place everywhere from small parks to nationally recognisable locations.

The celebration usually includes a speech by a prominent local figure, the lighting of the bonfire and an atmospheric rendition in chorus of the song Midsommervisen.

The chances of a glorious long red summer sunset or a grey, damp squib are probably about even. Although Sankt Hans Aften is traditionally seen as the peak of summer, Denmark’s climate often sees to it ending up a very wet affair.

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