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Bonfire
28 July 2017

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night On the evening of April 30, bonfires are lit all over Sweden to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. People gather by the light and heat of the fire to listen to choirs performing a number of traditional spring songs - quite ironic if, in the meantime, sleet and snow are doing their best to put the fire out.

Celebrating Walpurgis Night on the eve of the feast of St Walburga was originally a German custom. Walburga, who was an abbess in Germany in the 8th century, has become Sweden's Valborg. Lighting bonfires, especially in the eastern parts of Sweden, is an ancient custom: it was done to scare off predators before the cattle and sheep were let out to graze but also to protect people against the witches believed to be gathering on this very night to worship the devil.

Especially in university towns like Uppsala and Lund, the traditions surrounding Walpurgis Night are strong and include choral singing, speeches and wearing white-topped graduation caps. The bonfires also offer a suitable occasion to get rid of all of the winter debris.

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