Hans Christian Andersen : All you need to know !

hans christian andersen statue
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Ignored for a long time or ridiculed on his country, Hans Christian Andersen, where his egocentrism has been scoffed at, he is recognized first of all only abroad: in England where he meets Charles Dickens and where he becomes “the dandy of season”

His numerous travels inspire him with stories that constitute the bet part of his work, after the tales. But his compatriots accuse him of traveling the world only to find fame, and his stories are better received in Germany.

Hans Christian Andersen Festival

sankt hans christian andersen aften tradition

Since the year 2013, the Hans Christian Andersen Festival has been funded by a group pf professionals from Odense. The festival showcases various cultural activities and adventures into Andersen's fantasy world. This yearly activity has become a much awaited event in the city.

Aside from the traditional activities associated with cultural festivities such as guided tours, theatrical performances, and even educational seminars and lectures, locals and visitors have been treated in the past two years with surprise street art and performances as well as other modern interpretations of the works of Hans Christian Andersen. This has effectively gained ground for the organizers' primary goal which is promote the city of Odense both in the local and international market. Each year a set of paid and free events are lined up for those interested to join.

There is very conscious effort to preserve the authenticity of Andersen's works even with the aggressive campaign to make them more appealing to the modern and younger generation. Andersen is certainly an icon in Denmark courtesy of his popular fairy tales that continue to be retold over generations. Although only an honorary citizen of Odense, Andersen has been provided maximum honors befitting of his outstanding contribution to Denmark's positive reputation.

The festival has been set to happen this year from August 16 to 23. As early as now though, preparations are ongoing. In fact, applications for those who are interested to perform at the festival closed last December 12, 2014 yet. This is to give enough time to the concerned committees to review all applications. It is no wonder then the festival as a whole depicts quality and innovation. 

What is the Sankt Hans Aften Tradition?

Each year on June 23, Denmark marks its traditional Sankt Hans Aften or Saint John’s Night on the eve of the saint’s feast. This tradition dates back to the pagan times.

The celebration of Sankt Hans Aften, also known as a midsummer night event, is done through the lighting of a large bonfire.

The history of this midsummer celebration can be traced to the past belief that this period during the summer solstice will have nature including humans, plants, trees, animals, soil and springs filled with energy coming from the sun. As such, people would go out to the countryside and gather herbs and plants. By the time Christianity came to Denmark, the pagan activity was changed and instead people started gathering together and lighting bonfires as a way to drive away evil spirits and witches.

A major part of this activity is the witch effigy that Danes create using sticks tied together. The effigy which symbolizes the evil spirits is then placed into the bonfire. 

Across Denmark, North Jutland and Skagen are the most popular areas where the Sankt Hans is actively celebrated. In North Jutland’s coast, the beaches are packed with people on the evening of June 23. There, the Danes gather around a bonfire to picnic or barbecue and learn the Midsummer song or the Vi Elsker Vort Land. Speeches are then given by local politicians or writers and then entertainment can be enjoyed until early morning. 

In the area of Aalbaek, a parade usually takes place with some 50 men from the Frederkshavn’s guard company and orchestra leading the group. Another area in Denmark that celebrates Sankt Hans is Hirtshals on the west coast. Before the bonfire that starts at sunset, the people there normally hold a treasure hunt activity.

Hans Christian Andersen’s Very First Fairy Tale Discovered

Once upon a time, before the emperor tromped the streets of his kingdom in his new clothes, before the ugly duckling first waddled into the sunlight, and before the little mermaid sighed and turned into sea foam, a lad named Hans Christian Andersen penned his very first story – The Tallow Candle.

But how was it discovered? Let’s go back to the future to see it unfold.

On October 2012 on the island of Funen, the same island where our esteemed author was born, a historian by the name of Esben Brage unearthed the manuscript from the bottom of an archive box. Two months after the discovery, historians confirmed that the handwriting was unmistakably Andersen’s, and since the document was written in the mid-1820s, this would date all the way back to the author’s late teenage years. The storyteller was a bright-eyed youth himself when he developed a deep love for stories, and penned one himself. 

On the manuscript’s first page, a short dedication is scribbled in ink: “To Madam Bunkeflod from her devoted H.C. Andersen.”

Who exactly was this Madam Bunkeflod? She would prove to play one of the most important roles in the young Andersen’s life. A vicar’s wife, she stayed in a cottage right across the author’s childhood home. Young Andersen would every now and then visit the lady’s home to borrow books from her, historians agree. The story was a tender thank-you gift from this budding writer to a woman who had played an important role in his life in opening the wonders of stories to him.

Wonderland Depicts Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are what children love to read and what famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen loved to write. Andersen, who was a native of Odense, Denmark made a name for himself through his children’s stories. Since their publication, these stories have gotten the attention of kids all over the world. Even until now, they continue to be read in all corners of the globe.

Museum of Childhood

In the UK, there’s this unique exhibition called Wonderland. It is organized by the East London Printmakers, an independent group of 200 artist-printmakers who are based in Hackney. The exhibition showcases more than 80 artworks that include famous European stories and folklore from other countries carrying various themes such as fantasy, cautionary tales, good versus evil, love and friendship, myths and folklore and the heroic quest.  Some 50 artists are featured here including Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm who are behind the popular Hansel and Gretel story.

Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling falls under the Love and Friendship category of the exhibition. Katja Rosenberg created the print for this Danish fairy tale entitled The Reflection. This particular print in black and white carries the caption “But what did he see there in the clear water? He saw his own image, no longer a plumpish black creature, ugly and rugged, but a swan himself.”

The Little Match Seller

The sad story about the Little Match Seller is also depicted with a paper sculpture created by artist Amanda-Esther Idowu Lucio.
This informative Wonderland exhibition has been going on at the Museum of Childhood since September and will run until January 10, 2010. Admission is free to everyone visiting the museum.

In line with this event, a question and answer contest was also held which gave away a lovely Butterflies signed print by artist-printmaker Kim Kirby to the top winner and four Wonderland exhibition catalogues to the runners-up. One of the five questions included was from what country did the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling originated. Of course our readers know!

The Best Christmas Stories by Hans Christian Andersen

Looking for some great Christmas stories to share with your little ones or to give as a gift? Look no further because you can find some of the best stories from the collection of famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen right on our site.

The Little Match Girl – This is about a poor little girl who, on a cold and snowy New Year’s eve, roamed the streets in bare foot and with no head covering. She was carrying a bundle of matches but not one bought from her until night came. 

Not being able to stand the cold, she then decided to rest in a corner and lit some match sticks by scratching them on the wall to warm herself. Bright lights greeted her one after the other and she found herself in a room with dinner including a roast goose served on the table.  

The little girl then saw her old grandmother and pleaded that she be taken with her. Eventually, the grandmother took the girl into her arms and together, they flew upwards. The following day, the little girl was found lifeless while leaning against the wall. 

The Steadfast Tin Soldier – The story is about 25 tin soldiers that were all the same except for one that had only one leg. There was not enough tin to make his leg the reason for his unique appearance.  At night time when the kids who own the toys sleep, the toys play games together.

One evening, the goblin that popped out of the box told the one-legged tin soldier to not desire what is beyond his reach. He was referring to the toy lady dancer made from paper that lived in the castle. The next morning, the tin soldier fell from the window and went through a long journey. He later on came back to the house and saw the toy dancer still there. Eventually, the tin soldier was thrown into the stove by the child and the lady dancer was also blown by the wind towards that direction until they both turned into ashes.

The flower kept asking the sunbeam about when summer will come so she could come out and greet everyone. Eventually, the flower emerged from the earth with its white flower, green stalk and thick leaves and was protected by the sunbeam. It felt overjoyed by the welcome given to her by every ray. The sunbeams praised her and considered her their first and only love.

It was not yet summertime and the wind and weather threatened the flower saying it will just break and fade. But the flower stood confident until a child broke her off from her stalk, was brought into a room and put into water. The flower was later laid in a letter to be sent to a young boy.

At Christmas time, the fir tree grew bigger and wondered about the young trees that were cut off and brought to the houses. The sun and air encouraged him to rejoice in his youth but the tree was still not happy until the next Christmas came and he was the first to be cut down. On that day, the  tree felt sadness for he will no longer be staying in his home and won’t see his old comrades again.

Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Tales

One of the famous names from Denmark is that of fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen. This Danish author is known worldwide for creating wonderful stories that provide lessons especially to young children. But although he’s best known for his The Ugly Duckling and The Littler Mermaid stories, Andersen was also able to write Christmas fairy tales.

The Fir Tree also known as The Pine Tree is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic Christmas tales. This short story revolves around a fir tree that is so eager to grow up that he is just not contented living in the present time. The tree also feels embarrassed and frustrated because of his small size. Until one day when the fir tree was cut down to become a Christmas decoration in a home where he was adorned with candles, toys, candies and apples. He then got lonely when placed in the attic after Christmas and was eventually cut and burned.

The Little Match Seller or Match Girl is a story concerning a little girl who sells matches on the streets in winter. With no hat or shoes, the little girl braves the cold just to sell matches fearing that her father would beat her if she made no sale. She then lights her matches which brought good wishes to warm her soul.

The Snow Drop focuses on a flower that grows in winter. In this story, the flower blooms early and is able to survive despite the wind and snow. It is later picked by a child and then pressed in a letter. Eventually, the flattened Snow Drop flower ended up in a book.

snow queen hans christian andersen

The Snow Queen is considered to be one of Andersen’s best and longest. First published in 1845, the story revolves around the struggle between good and evil based on the experience of a little boy and girl named Kai and Gerda. The tale is told in seven stories with the queen of snowflakes as the main character who travels around the world.

Hans Christian Andersen's Island

There is a place in Denmark fondly called Hans Christian Andersen's island. It is actually not officially named as such but is called so because it is the birthplace of Andersen, one of Denmark's most famous author. Think Little Mermaid and people will instantly know who he is – the Father of Fairytales himself.

The real name of the place is Funen. It has attracted its own share of interested visitors who cannot help but associate it with fairytale and fantasy, thanks in part to Andersen's reputation. Being the third largest island in the country, it offers more than these but will gladly indulge those who puirposely seek such magical experience.

Funen features Renaissance castles, historic houses, lovely breakfast and beds, and inns that befit the atmospheric island. It is of note that most of the land is owned by rich private individuals and families. This should explain the big number of castles and manors found all over the island. Danish aristocracy is very much evident in this part of the country. The cost of maintaining the properties though have persuaded most of them to have select parts open to the public.

It is not hard to understand how it was possible for Andersen to produce fairytales like he did, seeing how inspiring it is to be living in Funen. Even without fairytale magic, the island weaves its own magic and can hold its own beside the now more popular Copenhagen. This island will always be unique because it is the closest that can ever be called as Hans Christian Andersen's island.

J.K. Rowling Gets H.C. Andersen Award

J.K. Rowling

Most of you know the worldwide phenomenon created by the Harry Potter book and movie series. All thanks to British author J.K. Rowling who has greatly contributed to increasing the fondness of kids and adults alike on reading books. And because of her bestselling books, Rowling has received many recognition from around the world.

The latest to honor this famous Harry Potter author is Denmark. Rowling became the latest recipient of the H.C. Andersen Literature Prize for her highly successful book series featuring the boy wizard Harry from the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. Due to this remarkable achievement, the 44-year-old female author is now being compared to the famous Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen.

The awarding of this literary award won’t be until next year but as early as now, J.K. Rowling has confirmed her presence in the event to personally accept the literature prize. The ceremony will take place on October 19, 2010 in Odense where the famous Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen was born. The award is given only to an individual who can be compared with Andersen in many ways. The awardee is chosen by an advisory board and this year, it is composed of Odense’s important figures including the Mayor Jan Boye, editor Benny Nybo, Professor Johannes Norregaard Frandsen, among others.

J.K. Rowling, who is Joanne Murray in real life, has swept the world with her seven Harry Potter books. These bestselling books have sold more than 400 million copies and have been successful in encouraging young people to enjoy reading. Her book has also been made as basis for the series of Harry Potter movies. Today, Harry Potter is considered a global brand that is worth around $15 billion.

In Odense, Denmark, a Harry Potter Festival takes place each year with the City Hall turned into a Hogwarts School. The event is organized with the cooperation of the public library basically to get children to read books and love it.

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