Saturday, May 7, 2011

Walpurgis

Last Saturday, April 30th, was Walpurgis. This is not a holiday I had ever heard of since it's not celebrated in the States but all the Swedes were really excited about it. None of the Swedes I've met really knew what the holiday was for other then the unofficial-official end of Winter. What I've learned from my research on the internet is that Walpurgis is named after Saint Walpurga (and English missionary ca. 710 - 779) who was cannonized May 1 870 and in Sweden holidays are celebrated the eve the day before just like New Years Eve is celebrated the night before in the States. May 1 is also a Witches Sabbath dating back to the middle ages which was celebrated with drinking and dancing. Walpurgis in Sweden today is celebrated with a bonfire in a local park and the residents come together to watch the fire, sing folk songs, celebrate the end of winter, and maybe even drink and dance too. We had heard Uppsala, a college town an hour north or Stockholm, has the best Walpurgis celebrations but Dale and I were both sick from a bug we caught on our trip to Switzerland so we opted for the more calm local park celebration 3 blocks from our house at Vasaparken. When we got to Vasaparken there was a decent amount of people, mostly families with children. There was a stage with a classic/folk choir singing, some activities for kids, candy stands, and of course the bonfire ready to be burned. 
We bought some candy and sat down to listen to the music until the lighting of the bonfire occurred. Well, I bought some candy. There were all different flavors of this candy and it's a bit like licorice, maybe gummy licorice. Not sure how else to describe it, sorry. 
Then they lit the fire and everyone cheered and sang along to the songs.
Here's a new move for the blog, I made a video of the event for you all! I didn't edit it or anything, it's just raw footage but if I do more videos I'll work on my video skills. In the mean time you can get a feel for what the folk songs were like.
video
We didn't stick around too long after the fire was lit so I don't know how long everyone kept singing. But we had a good time at our first Walpurgis experience! Sunday was May 1st, May Day, and I'm told that in Sweden this is celebrated as the official day the Socialist Party protests. We didn't go check it out so I don't know what they were protesting but the rest of Sweden celebrates May Day by planting their garden. It snowed the next day so hopefully the gardens pulled through!
Love Always,
Matilda

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