Walpurgis Night is a traditional holiday celebrated on April 30 in northern Europe and Scandinavia.
The current festival is, in most countries that celebrate it, named after Saint Walpurga, born in
Devon about 710. Due to the coincidence of her holy day falling on the same day as the pagan
holiday on which it was based, her name became associated with the celebrations. Walpurga was
honoured in the same way that Viking 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.
In Estonia, Volbriöö is celebrated throughout the night of April 30 and into the early hours of May
1, where May 1 is a public holiday called "Spring Day" (Kevadpüha). Volbriöö is an important and
widespread celebration of the arrival of Spring in the country. Influenced by German culture, the
night originally stood for the gathering and meeting of witches. Modernly people still dress up as
witches to wander the streets in a carnival-like mood.
The Volbriöö celebrations are especially vigorous in Tartu, the university town in Southern Estonia.
For Estonian students in student corporations (fraternities and sororities), the night starts with a
traditional march through the streets of Tartu, followed by visiting of each others' corporation
houses throughout the night.
In Sweden, typical holiday activities include the singing of traditional spring folk songs and the
lighting of bonfires. In Germany, the holiday is celebrated by dressing in costumes, playing pranks
on people, and creating loud noises meant to keep evil at bay. Many people also hang blessed sprigs
of foliage from houses and barns to ward off evil spirits, or they leave pieces of bread spread with
butter and honey.
In Finland, Walpurgis day ( Vappu), the biggest carnival-style festival held in the streets of Finland's
towns and cities. The celebration, which begins on the evening of April 30 and continues to May 1,
typically centres on copious consumption of sparkling wine and other alcholic beverages. One
tradition is to drink sima, a home-made mead, along with freshly cooked doughnuts.
Czech Republic.April 30 is "pálení čarodějnic" ("burning of the witches")the day that winter is
ceremonially brought to an end, by the burning of rag and straw witches or just broomsticks on
bonfires around the country. The festival offers Czechs the chance to eat, drink and be merry around
a roaring fire.