Midsummer's Eve or Sankt Hans Aften is a relic of pagan customs, where the shortest day, the winter solstice, and the longest day, the summer solstice, were celebrated. Originally it was believed that midsummer night was filled with magical forces of nature—both bad and good. All herbs and sources were particularly sacred, and it was a tradition to seek sacred springs or picking healing herbs on this night.
The tradition of burning bonfires came later. Originally they were not associated with Midsummer's Eve celebration, although later some farmers who believed in witches started burning bonfires on this night. A shape that looks like a witch was put in the fire. The purpose of the fire was to scare the witches and evil spirits away, rather than burning them.
Today the Midsummer's Eve is still celebrated with bonfires, dancing, singing and a traditional speech from someone well known in the community. The celebrations are held all around the country, both in cities and small towns.