Another peek into a writer’s life.
On Monday this week, April 30, Swedes celebrated Walpurgis. We gathered in crowds at sunset, lighting large fires, singing and watching fireworks. To many Swedes, this has become the symbol of spring – when the fires of Walpurgis’ been lit, spring has officially arrived.
But how did this come to be? Let me give you a short history lesson on one of the strongest Swedish traditions.
It began in the 8th century, in Germany. An abbess named Walpurga was the principal of a convent within the Catholic Church and the legend says she was originally an English princess, called to Germany by her uncle to help convert the Germans to Christianity. In her work, she was known to be particularly skilled at fending off witchcraft. She died in the year of 779 and was declared a saint a hundred years later on May 1, 870. The feast held that day got associated with May Day, especially in Sweden and Finland, and bonfires and dancing became tradition on the eve of May Day to ward off witches.
Another reason behind the festivities dates back to the Middle Ages, when the administrative year ended on April 30. This called for celebrations among merchants and craftsmen, and the eve of the feast was filled with dancing and singing in preparation for spring.
As farmers let out their animals to graze in the early 18th century, they began lighting bonfires to scare off predators. Younger people collected greeneries and branches from the woods and brought it out in the open, lighting it up on high spots.
Nowadays, the bonfires, singing and celebrations on Walpurgis night has become mainly a symbol of spring’s arrival, of light. At least in Sweden. Uppsala and Lund are two cities linked to the largest celebrations, but bonfires and choir singing are found all over Sweden on April 30, even in the smallest villages there are local celebrations.
Standing in front of the massive flames, feeling the heat tingle in your cheeks, joining in with the traditional, old Swedish songs, gives you more than happiness for spring’s arrival. It gives a sense of hope. We all made it through yet another dark and long winter, we came out on the other side, and what lies ahead is nothing but beauty. This might sound dramatic, but anyone who’s ever spent a winter in Scandinavia knows what I’m talking about. M-hm.
Speaking of hope on this gray Swedish Thursday; I’m feeling hopeful about yet another thing this week. I’m editing Kilonova Blues like crazy to get it ready to send out to my beloved beta-readers on June 18. And I actually think I’ll be able to make it. I’ve fallen in love with the story, and my deepest hope and wish is that eventually, you will too.
That’s all for now,
hej så länge!