Walpurgis Night (April 30), is celebrated all over Scandinavia but especially in Sweden and Finland. The holiday is named after Saint Walpurga, a Christian saint known for her healing powers and her ability to repel witchcraft. Great bonfires were traditionally lit in her honor in an effort to ward off witches and evil spirits.
In modern day Sweden, Walpurgis Night is a time to gather around a bonfire to celebrate the arrival of spring with drinking, dancing and singing folk songs. Fortunately for those who overindulge, May 1 is a national holiday (their Labor Day). The celebrating continues into this next day with parades, picnics and other festivities.
In the Swedish university towns of Uppsala and Lund, Walpurgis Night conveniently falls at a time when the students are just about to hunker down and study for final exams. Needless to say, they take this opportunity to let loose even more seriously than the rest of Sweden. The morning begins with a breakfast of champagne and strawberries. The day continues with a huge street party and more champagne, some for drinking, some for shaking up and spraying in celebration.
Thinking of hosting your own celebration of Walpurgis Night this evening? If you have a fire pit in your backyard or live somewhere that permits bonfires you can really celebrate Nordic-style. But for most of us here in the US I’m guessing that’s not an option. Maybe just a stroll around the neighborhood to admire all of the beautiful trees in bloom and then an outdoor toast with a glass of champagne to celebrate the return of warmer weather. Happy spring!