This weekend, we celebrated two birthdays, my mother’s and Evan’s. Both are this week, but with all the 4th holiday festivities we wanted to do something special with just family.
For the special event, we brought out the turkey fryer to do chicken wings in mom’s backyard. (Nothing like a 10 gallon pot of oil to get a party started.) Evan and I went to 5 different places looking for peanut oil, but had no luck and finally settled for corn oil from the grocery store. They must only sell peanut oil in bulk during the holiday season. I was on prep duty and Evan on the fryer execution. I did a quick prep, just rinse and dry the chicken wings, dip in egg and roll in flour with seasoning. Then 5 minutes in the oil, 1 minute drip on a paper towel and serve. The wings were a total hit and one of our guests (4 year old Elena) almost fell asleep in her seat with a wing in her mouth. They were so good that even though she was exhausted, she couldn’t put it down. That’s how you know your dinner is a hit!
After dinner the mosquitoes had a feast on me, so we walked down to the beach hoping the wind would save me from more bites. Some neighbors were having a get together with a group of Danish friends. They were having a classic Danish midsummer celebration including a bonfire and a traditional burning of a witch. When I asked what the burning of the witch symbolized, one of the guests said simply, “witches are bad and need to be burned.” Although this was a perfectly suited response, I did a little googling and found this little snippet from a flikr stream from Mace2000.
In Denmark the people celebrate Midsummer´s Eve with large bonfires, it´s called Sankt Hans aften ("St. John's Eve") and takes place on the evening of June 23. The celebration of Midsummer's Eve was from ancient times linked to the summer solstice. People believed that at midsummer plants had miraculous and healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In the 1920s a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witchburnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the witch to Bloksbjerg, the mountain 'Brocken' in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.