Heaven smiles in bright spring evenings,
sun kissed life in the forest and lake.
(Himlen ler i vårens ljusa kvällar,
solen kysser liv i skog och sjö.)
~From the traditional Valborg song Vintern Rasat (“The winter has fallen”)
When I lived in Sweden, I learned to celebrate Valborgsmässoafton, or as it’s known in Germany, Walpurgisnacht, or in English, Walpurgis Night. It’s not something most Americans even know of, but I’m sure somewhere tonight people in the US will be celebrating.
Technically it’s the night before St. Walpurga’s feast day. But there’s more to it than that.
Tradition tells us that this is the night all the witches flew back to the Brocken, the highest peak in the Hartz Mountains. With all those witches flying about, there was a need for big bonfires to scare them away.
This was also considered the start of spring when animals were let out to graze, so the bonfires actually kept away much more mundane predators.
I have fond memories of Swedish friends inviting us for a barbeque before going to the community bonfire. After a long Swedish winter, spring is most welcome! It’s besides the fact that most of the barbeques and bonfires I attended took place with snow in evidence!
But spring is coming! Tomorrow is May Day! Today’s weather is reminding me of those days in Sweden, but brighter days are coming.