Everyone at The Danish Home is gearing up for the annual Summer Festival this Sunday!
Each year this event seems to get bigger and bigger (last year over 400 people attended!) and it’s understandable why: great food and entertainment, a children’s area with fun activities and unlimited games, a raffle with a $1,500 1st place prize, special drawings and so much more! Not to mention, spending a wonderful afternoon with neighbors and friends (old and new!) and celebrating the summer season.
Summer picnics are something that The Danish Home is very accustomed to. Back nearly 114 years ago The Society for The Danish Home was just turning 10 years old. The main goal of the society since being founded in 1891 was to raise enough money to one day open a home for elderly Danes in Chicago. in 1900 They held a summer picnic at Kolze’s Electric Park (today known as Merrimac Park) in Chicago in order to help add to this goal. It was through persistence, determination and dedication to this mission that this amazing group of people eventually did raise enough money to open the home’s doors to residents just two years later in 1902.
However, several years earlier they held a picnic in June of 1894, just three years after Emma and her eleven friends started The Society for The Danish Old People’s Home. This event, one of the first to benefit The Home, was held at North and California Avenues, which is today known as the Humbolt Park area of Chicago. It was part of the St. Hans’ Festival celebration, also known as Sankt Hans Dag (St. John’s Day), a famous Danish midsummer festival that is celebrated each June on the summer solstice. Since this is the longest day of the year (and the shortest night), Danes gather together around bonfires, sing songs and revel in the merriment of the summer season. Like most summer festivals, Sankt Hans Aften (St. John’s evening) is another excuse to enjoy the company of others on a beautiful summer night. A very famous Danish song was written in 1885 by Danish Poet Holger Drachmann and P.E. Lange-Müller, and first performed at the Royal Theater in 1887. It is called Vi elsker vort land/”We Love Our Country” and is traditionally sang on this night. You can hear the song performed here and read the lyrics here.
The Danish Home of Chicago has been a wonderful place for so many to call home over the past 112 years since opening its doors in 1902. Throughout the years there have been many new projects, updates, renovations and additions made to The Home, including an air-conditioned beauty shop in the 60’s and safety and surveillance updates in the 80’s and a garden walk in 1986. One of the main reasons that The Home has continued to be a cherished place to so many has been because of the annual picnics and events organized within the community.
Like the picnics of 1894 and 1900 and the numerous subsequent events since, The Danish Home’s legacy and amazing history would be nonexistent if it weren’t for the many, many donors, volunteers and benefactors who have supported this mission throughout the years.
This Sunday the Annual Danish Home Summer Festival is sure to be another wonderful event in the long line of cherished traditions for both the city of Chicago, the Danes and residents and friends of The Danish Home of Chicago. If you are in the area of Norwood Park, Chicago plan to join us this year for a fantastic summer celebration!