It’s April 30th today, in Sweden a day known as Valborgsmässoafton or simply Valborg (in English Walpurgis Night). The day is a festive occasion associated with the bonfires but also singing of traditional songs of Spring and parties of course. The day is particularly popular with students as they have usually just finished their exams and it is a time to let their hair down and enjoy their new found freedoms.
The celebration has ancient traditions possibly going back to pre-Christian times in Europe. The day marks the birth of Saint Walpurga, who is believed to have been born in Devon, England around the year 710. This tradition of lighting bonfires on this day originates from Germany, where they lit bonfires to scare off witches. In Sweden we used to let cows and goats out into the forest on May 1st to begin their summer grazing. The Vikings picked up the habit of lighting bonfires to keep away evil spirits and wild animals so that the livestock would not get harmed. They also used the bonfires to celebrate and hurry up spring, and to purify nature. Read more