The night of April the 30th is known as Walpurgis Night in many parts of Europe but I will be focusing on Sweden‘s celebration of the night. Origans of the celebration are traced back to the days of the Vikings and the welcoming of spring in the land long before the name Walpurgis which comes from an abbes born in 710 and became a Saint.
Throughout the country people celebrate in different ways but there are some similarities, such as bon fires being light on top of hills and mountains. This was done for three reasons; to frighten away predators as livestock where put out to pasture for the first time of the year, to welcome spring and to scare away witches and demons as the night was known for being a time when the lines between the living and dead where very thin. Another tradition is for those who are graduating or have graduated wear the traditional hat, white with a black. I found indications that schools are closed this day and champagne is drank in the morning in celebration as well. In university towns there are marches of the graduates as well.
A personal account of the day talked of boat races down the local river in Uppsala where the winner is determined by the funniest boat (1).
There is much singing of traditional Swedish songs around the bon fire welcoming the spring, which as the official website of Sweden pointed out was ironic as there is often snow and sleet coming down trying to put out the fire.
As a side note, the birth of The King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf is April 30th(2) and from some sources indicated this was one of the official flag days of the country. Unfortunately, I was unable to find documentation per the government’s or embassy’s websites to collaborate this.
http://www.sweden.se/templates/cs/Event____17130.aspx (Official Sweden website)