From ancient times, the longest day of the year — the summer solstice — was observed throughout Scandinavia with bonfires to protect humans from evil spirits thought to roam when the sun began its southward journey. The date fit conveniently close to the Christian feast of St. John the Baptist, so the two events later became one festival. Almost entirely secularized today, Midsummer’s Eve is an excuse throughout Norway for a cook-out, town party and bonfire on the beach.
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Stuffing yet another chunk of minutes-from-the-sea Alaskan king crab into my mouth, I silently thanked the Russians for the 1960s experiment that introduced this scrumptious crustacean into the Barents Sea. Only three days into my Scandinavian adventure, and already I was smitten — not only by the food, but also by the art, culture, heritage and style.