Burn baby burn!
Imagine this: the cold grip of winter is finally letting go at the end of April. The days are longer and warmer and cattle finally come outside to graze. The dead wood of winter is piled high in enormous bonfires, which blaze in order to keep the evil spirits away. For as everyone knows, the curtain between the living and the dead is a thin one. Winter is being kicked out – and spring is being warmly embraced.
This description sums up an ancient pagan tradition in Scandinavia and Northern Europe that still goes on today. (It’s called Valborg in Sweden; otherwise known as Walpurgis Eve.)
Go forward a thousand years or so to the 8th century… a British nun called Walpurga goes to Germany, where she runs a convent that was very important at that time. The Germans also celebrate April 30 – known there as ‘the witches’ Sabbath’ – as it is the time when witches were supposed to celebrate with their gods and await the arrival of Spring.
Walpurga becomes a saint and her holy day just happens to fall on the same day as the old pagan ritual. Put them together: bonfires, singing songs to usher in the spring and St. Walpurga’s feast day – and you have Walpurgis Eve in Sweden, still celebrated in much the same way as it was thousands of years ago.
Amazing how much change the world has seen, and yet, how traditions stay so deeply rooted and unchanging.
Oh, and I met a wizard with a silver-topped cane by the fire… Come back tomorrow to find out what magic he weaved….
For more traditions, please visit: That’s My World!