Mid-Summer Bonfire in Aalesund

We have an age old tradition of celebrating Mid-Summer Blot by burning bonfires in Norway. (The Mid-Winter Blot is now called Christmas)

In Aalesund this this was a specially big event, with many large bonfires of wooden barrels being lit on St.Hans Eve (23. June)
The barrels was collected by various “gangs” of youths (boys only) from different parts of town in May and June, competing on who could collect the most.

Some barrels were given by the many herring processing plants around town, some were “stolen” at night. (Or put in places where the Owners knew they would be found by rowing collectors at night)

Then it was a question of protecting your haule of barrels from other “gangs” that was looking to increase their haule the easy way. Guarding the haul (and raiding) at night took it’s toll on school attendance and attention during that period, which also happened to be Exam time,

The tradition of multiple large bonfire and “gangs”, competing to see who’s bonfire would be largest and burn the longest, is now gone.
Only one large bonfire is surviving, Slinningsbaalet,
But it is now built with wooden pallets that has been donated, (Not “honestly stolen”)

It is not necessarily lit on 23.June either, but on the nearest Saturday to it. (Which Saturday that will be this year has not been published yet)

Here is a Video about Slinningsbaalet, which has now become “world famouse”, after setting a Guinness World Record for the tallest bonfire (47.8 m.) in 2018:

PS> I belonged to the Hessabaalet “gang” and our main competitor was Slinningsbaalet. Mortal enemies during the collection period, although we went to school together, in the same class room. (We could still play together during recess though)


Meh…midsummer celebrations in Sweden are much better.

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Eco-Freaks in Norway will be wanting to ban the bonfire tradition as it releases carbon into the atmosphere. They will be campaigning to replace it with a laser light show instead.

Yes they need to calculate the global warming potential of this event. Also sounds like GHG might be the least of the pollution - burning old herring barrels? That must smell a delight.

In the YouTube video guy being interviewed said they used to fill the old herring barrels with seaweed to keep the fire going for as long as possible. So perhaps the burning seaweed aroma might of overpowered the burning herring stench? Say what you want about the Scandinavians but those Norwegians know how to have a good time. The bonfires in my neck of the woods usually smell like marshmallows, gunpowder, hotdogs & drunk redneck cockiness.


The barrels were returned from Russia in clean condition and did not smell.
I don’t know which “baal” that fellow belonged to, but we never used seaweed as stuffing material. Drift wood yes.

PS> The drinking, dancing and grilling of sausages happened away from the big fire. Common sense tells you why. (and it wasn’t smell)

No gunpowder, but enough of cocky people, (Redneck wannabes??) doing stupid stunts, like jumping in the freezing water for a swim (sometimes fully dressed, from great heights and too shallow).

PS> I don’t think many in Norway had heard of Rednecks in the 1950s.

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Seaweed, driftwood or gunpowder, it all sounds like my kind of fun. The guy in the video was introduced as the oldest barrel bonfire builder at near 60. You should check into volunteering next year & set the record. Sounds like a good time.

No thank you I’m too old for that shit.
Have you seen how they build it? Well, here it is (2016):

Too late to relive a time long gone. I left this game at 15, when I went to sea. It was simple then. (But stuffed barrel were heavier)

PS> In 2016 they reached a height of 43.5 m. “only”.

I’m appalled that you would promote such a macho inspired wasteful use of a potential source of energy.
To pollute the atmosphere with such quantities of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides for the sake of a hollow spectacle at a time when global warming and pollution are a global concern is egregious. To continue squandering energy that could be put to good use rescuing mariners that are stranded at sea is reprehensible.


Thanks for your concern for the environment and for the mariners stranded around the world. (Irony x2)

Apparently this is not found in Norway.


If you mean in the Norwegian language, it is.
Both “sarkasme” and “ironi” are used, sometime interchangeably (just like in standard Oxford English)
Both words come from Latin and is fairly commonly used in many languages (with different spellings and sometimes different understanding/meaning)

How about sarchasm? (the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit, and the person who doesn’t get it.)


Thank you for validating my comment. I was making a subtle (apparently too subtle) observation that some persons may not recognize “sarchasm” when they are smacked over the head with it.

I found it ironic that Lee Shore should suddenly feel concern for the environment and fellow seafarers and gave what I thought was an equally ironic answer. (indicated by “Ironic x2”)

Sorry if my use of this term, not your preferred term irritate you, but there are “more ways than one to skin a cat”. (Is that American enough for you?)

The two piles of pallets on the neighboring beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp, two already for decades competing villages.

The Scheveningen pile was more than 45 meters high at the turn of the year, that of Duindorp almost 49 meters. The agreement (disputed by the builders) was 35 meter. According to the organization, the wood pile on the Scheveningen beach was 4,000 cubic meters. That amounts to 30,000 pallets.

Work in progress…

It was stupid because these were unlicensed bonfires and especially because it was against the advice to set fire to the pallets with an stiff inshore breeze which caused a rain of sparks to descend on the nearby houses causing small fires here and there. An official report led to the resignation of Mayor Pauline Krikke who had done nothing to prevent these damaging fires and didnot act to forbid the lighting of the tower.

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Please explain why you see irony in my concern for the environment and the welfare of seafarers and why you believe it is sudden…

I’d guess that if someone finds that concerning or funny would likely depend on their blood alcohol level.

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Speaking of irony…
not short enough

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