Walpurgis & May Day

Walpurgis & May Day

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 11:00pm

As always we Swedes insist on getting our celebrations in early and why be different with Valborg? Traditionally a feast to ward of winter and evil spirits, as well as a celebration of spring is celebrated in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Czech Republic and Germany. And Finland. But they call it Vappen! Valborg was a saint who lived in the late 8th century and at the time there was already a tradition to placate the spirits of the dead, which were thought to be especially close to earth. In the mid 1700’s, fires were lit to scare away predators before cows, goats and sheep were led to their summer pastures. In the 1800’s the “Maying” took over. Young people would go around with leafy twigs and sing in the villages, and would receive eggs – a fertility symbol – as thanks.

Valborg as the Swedes know it is closest to Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) and is a traditional religious holiday celebrated by pagans and Satanists, as well as Roman Catholics, on April 30 or May 1 in large parts of Central and Northern Europe.
Saint Walpurga was born in Devon about 710. Due to her holy day falling on the same day, her name became associated with the celebrations. Walpurga was honored in the same way that Vikings had celebrated spring and as they spread throughout Europe, the two dates became mixed together and created the Walpurgis Night celebration. Early Christianity had a policy of 'Christianising' pagan festivals so it is perhaps no accident that St. Walpurga's day was set to May 1, and in Sweden of course it turned in to one of those Eves again... Celebrations are derived from various pagan spring customs, for example bonfires which were built to keep away the dead and chaotic spirits that were said to walk among the living then, as well as well and truly scare away the cold winter and prepare the ground for new growth. Usually, there is a Swedish Valborg celebration happening, either through the Swedish School or ditto Church.

April 30th is also a National flag day in Sweden, as it’s the King Carl XVI Gustav’s birthday!

May Day – Workers of the World – Unite! May Day, in it’s capacity as the Worker’s Day is celebrated globally, though not so much in the USA and Canada. In 1938 it became the first non.church holiday in the Swedish Calendar. The tradition started with the Haymarket massacre, in USA, in 1886, where the unions as they were at the time were protesting against appalling working conditions and many were killed by governement forces. In France, the first May Day was celebrated as the becentennial of the French Revoulution, but in Amsterdam 1904 the Socialist Party called its members to a protest and it marked the start of the modern day celebrations. In Sweden, you have protest marches through the towns, and in Stockholm the union leader will address the masses gathered.

May is the month of the May flower appeal, sold since 1907 for the benefit of the sick and disabled. The patron of this appeal is the Queen Silvia and usually it’s school children who sell them.