Valborgsmässoafton, also abbreviated as Valgborg, is a day of celebrations that occur across Sweden on the last day of April.
Valgborg/Valborgsmässoafton is commonly known as Walpurgis night which translates as ‘’witch night’’. It is another holiday to ward off evil spirits with large majbrasor, (bonfires) where the whole community would participate to keep their livelihood safe.
The tradition is originally German and was introduced to Sweden in the middle ages. The name originates from Saint Welpurga who was declared a saint on May 1st in the 1400s. The holiday was called ‘’Walpurgisnacht’’ before being renamed into what it is today.
Walpurgis Night is special and celebrated in many different countries:
Valborgsmässoafton – Swedish
Vappu – Finnish
Volbriöö – Estonian
Valpurģu nakts – Latvian
Walpurgisnacht – German
Čarodějnice – Czech
More often than not, events are carnival styled atmospheres as opposed to family gatherings.
Now, celebrations on the last day of April symbolise the coming of summer, with bonfires being lit and people crown to listen to speeches and sing songs welcoming the longer days.
The holiday is particularly popular with high school students, as it celebrates the last term of the academic period for the year. Therefore, celebrations are electric in the cities of Uppsala and Lund – the two university cities. In Uppsala, Ekonomikumparken is the place to be with river rafting competitions! Within Lund, Stadsparken will be one of the busiest places, full of people eating strawberries and champagne for breakfast. The atmosphere is similar to that of a music festival.
Skansen in Stockholm is the most popular place to be, as the city’s capital hosts a little of everything suitable for all tastes!
Vackra Stockholm (pretty Stockholm)
More cultural events are attended by the older generation and include choir singing. Lundagårdin Lund is a good example of this, where one can experience beautiful singing under the magnolia trees.
King Carl XVI Gustaf also celebrates his birthday on Valborg. Parades and festivals with Swedish flags everywhere you look on May the 1st are to celebrate. Many people can enjoy this as it is a röddag (red day/bank holiday) and has been since 1939. This day can be used to demonstrate work rights.
Expect a lot of Swedish flags around as King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrates his birthday on Walpurgis. The day after, on May Day, there’s a host of parades and festivals.
Swedes often host a barbecue or enjoy a sill (herring) lunch for themselves and the company they surround themselves with.
vitlöksspäckad lammstek (garlic-studded roast lamb), goes beautifully with lemon and rosemary, is seasoned with garlic, and is a show-stopper when the lamb is served slightly pink in the middle. scented with lemon and rosemary around this time of year.
Though the days are longer, to warm up in the evening, a bowl of nässelsoppa (nettle soup) may be offered.
En sillmåltid – A herring meal
Glad Valborg! Happy Walpurgis Night!