Walpurgis Night in Sweden

Walpurgis night is celebrated on the last day of April and is traditionally the symbol of spring in Sweden. The festival was originally named after Saint Walpurga, who was canonized on May 1. It is also celebrated in Germany and  a few other countries, such as Holland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In the scandinavian countries, however, it is mostly about saying good bye to the long and dull winter days and greeting the warm season.

In Sweden Walpurgis night is called Valborgsmässoafton. There is a tradition of making big bonfires in the countryside. People may sing and dance around the fire, and there are sometimes choirs perfoming during the event. The tradition of Walpurgis bonfires goes back to the 18th century, when farm animals were let out after the winter. The purpose of the bon fires was scaring away the predators.

The scope of the event usually depends on where in Sweden it is celebrated. Usually students are the ones who get involved most. In the biggest university cities, such as Lund, Uppsala, Stockholm, and Gothenburg, it is possible to see many students involved in different activities, such as carnivals, parades, choirs, orchestras, dancing, and speeches.

Walpurgis night is followed by  Labor Day or May Day on the 1st of May. This is a public holiday, when parades and festivities are organized in cities. Many families are going on picnics to enjoy the warm and sunny weather. Most businesses are closed and people have a day off work.

My friends and I went to the Walpurgis bonfire near Borlänge on the 30th of April. To our surprise, it started snowing quite heavily when we were on our way there. It was an interesting way to ‘greet the spring’ 🙂 Anyway, we’ve had a lovely time and got warm near the huge bonfire. In the end there were fireworks. Some pictures that I’ve taken there:

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