Growth of solstice ceremonies suggests rituals without religion in Denmark

The new presence of atheists and humanists in Denmark during the past two decades has led to a growth of winter solstice celebrations that appeal to a diverse secular and religious public, according to an article in the journal Religions (12:74). Astrid Krabbe Troll writes that since 2010, there has been a marked increase in these rituals, which are often based on local traditions and natural surroundings. Before 2010, solstice celebrations were mainly frequented by nationalists, artists, and those in the Viking and Old Norse Pagan subcultures, but the trend has since caught on among a wider population seeking non- and pre-Christian rituals. Solstice observances have long been put to political purposes to bring about national unity, but through an analysis of newspapers, Troll finds that such events were not celebrated locally before the year 2000. Most of these celebrations involve some element of water (as Denmark is a country of islands), reciting poetry, singing songs (some of them traditional with religious elements), lighting bonfires and torches, and stressing environmental awareness. Troll adds that these celebrations “testify to the local level ritualization of a diverse religious and non-religious landscape. As such, they can be viewed as non-religious rituals that represent alternatives—as well as supplements—to Christmas celebrations in December.”


Source: Gerhard Lipold, 2020 (