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Walpurgis in Sweden: Ready to Have a Witchin’ Time?

Witches, sorcerers, costumes, tricks, and superstition…no, it’s not Halloween! We’re talking about Valborgsmässoafton (Valborg or Walpurgis Night) in Sweden.

While you might not associate the beginning of spring with witchcraft and sorcery, this correlation has some interesting roots in numerous European countries. In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of this mystical holiday and how it’s celebrated today. 

Let’s go!

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1. What is Walpurgis Night in Sweden?

A Green Field with Springtime Flowers

In Sweden, Walpurgis and May Day take place each year on the night of April 30 and day of May 1 respectively. This festival is also common in a number of other European countries, including Germany, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia. 

Walpurgis Night is named after an eighth-century abbess named Saint Walpurgis (also known as Saint Walpurga). She was known for her effectiveness in spreading Christianity, as well as her supposed abilities to deflect witchcraft and heal a variety of ailments. People would invoke her in their prayers in the hope that she would keep the witches at bay.

You see, it was believed that witches and sorcerers would hold a Witches’ Sabbath each year on the night of April 30. They were thought to engage in crazy dances and conspire with demons—or even Satan himself—to harm Christians and cause other sorts of trouble. 

In addition to invocations of Saint Walpurga, people would light bonfires on the hillsides and create as much noise as possible to scare away witches.

Over time, Walpurgis Day became less associated with actual witchcraft, and more and more people perceived this day as a time to reflect on the charms of such superstitions. Today, the holiday is mainly celebrated just for the fun of it, though the superstitions behind it are still strong in some places. 


2. Traditions and Celebrations for Walpurgis

A Walpurgis Bonfire

Walpurgis and May Day celebrations in Sweden vary from region to region, but there’s a large focus on enjoying the spring and the coming of summer. In the morning, some Swedes indulge in a delightful breakfast of champagne and strawberries. Later in the day, people often gather with friends, family, and loved ones in local parks and indulge in BBQ and alcoholic beverages.

Walpurgis Day in Sweden is particularly popular among university students, who engage in activities such as the donning of the student cap in Gothenburg and rafting on Fyris River. Uppsala University is particularly lively during Valborg. 

People of all ages enjoy participating in the bål (bonfire)! Due to the historical background of this holiday, lighting these large fires on which to brinna (burn) an effigy of a witch is a common activity. Some bonfire festivities will have various stalls set up that offer tasty foods and drinks. Music and dancing also play a large role in the holiday, especially around the bonfire. 

Finally, though this is less common nowadays, there are often left-wing demonstrations that take place following Walpurgis night in Sweden. 

3. Beltane

While the Valborg holiday likely originated from a pagan Norse holiday linked to the dead, there’s another holiday that seems to share roots with it: Beltane

This is a pagan holiday still celebrated today in Wiccan and Neopagan circles, and it shares many of the same tenets as Valborg. In times past, there were four important festivals celebrated throughout the year, Beltane one of them. It marked the end of the winter and the beginning of summer, and bonfires were popular on this day. 

The main purpose of Beltane was to protect cattle herds, crops, and dairy products from harm. This was done by appeasing the aos sí, a type of fairy or other supernatural race in Irish/Scottish mythology.

4. Vocabulary You Need to Know for Walpurgis in Sweden

A Match Burning against a Dark Background with Smoke Tendrils

Ready to impress your Swedish friends or hosts with some new vocabulary? Here are some of the words and phrases from this article, plus a few more! 

  • Vår / Spring
    • Noun, common
  • Eld / Fire
    • Noun, common
  • Valborgsmässoafton / Walpurgis Night
    • Phrase, common
  • Fyrverkeri / Firework
    • Noun, neutral
  • Fira / Celebrate
    • Verb 
  • Bål / Bonfire
    • Noun, neutral
  • Brinna / Burn
    • Verb 
  • Brasa / Campfire
    • Noun, common
  • Smällare / Firecracker
    • Noun, common
  • Ved / Firewood
    • Noun, common

To hear and practice the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to head over to our Walpurgis Night vocabulary list

Final Thoughts

Valborg is a fascinating, whimsical holiday with some unclear origins, though its celebrations today are still popular in Sweden. 

How do you celebrate the arrival of warmer weather in your country? Is there a special holiday involved? We look forward to hearing from you! 

If you would like to continue learning about Swedish culture and the language, make sure you continue to explore SwedishPod101. Here are some fun pages to get you started: 

Happy learning! 

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Swedish Waffle Day: A Sweet Start to Spring

What if I told you there was one day a year when you could eat all the waffles you could possibly want? Yes, I’m talking about Waffle Day (formerly known as Our Lady Day) in Sweden. 

If you have a mighty sweet tooth on you (or just love pastries a lot), it’s your lucky day! We’ll discuss the origins of this holiday, get your mouth watering with some info on Swedish waffles, and cover some key vocabulary. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Waffle Day?

a waffle with heart-shaped pieces

In Sweden, Våffeldagen (Waffle Day) is a springtime holiday during which the general population can indulge in a feast of waffles! But despite the holiday’s festive and indulgent nature, it was originally celebrated as a solemn feast called Vårfrudagen (Our Lady’s Day). A quick look at the two names is all you need to understand how a serious religious holiday came to be associated with this favorite Swedish pastry! 

Our Lady’s Day is a holiday observed in numerous majority-Christian countries. It’s considered one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar, because it marks the supposed date on which the Angel Gabriel visited the Jungfru Maria (Virgin Mary) and told her she would give birth to Jesus Christ. 

Nowadays, Swedish National Waffle Day is of a less religious nature and the focus is on making and consuming waffles! 

  • Even though this Swedish holiday has largely left its religious roots behind, you’ll still find it useful to learn some Religion vocabulary. 

2. When is Waffle Day in Sweden? 

Waffle Day takes place on March 25 every year, setting it apart from many other Catholic holidays, which are moveable. While this date is associated with Gabriel’s visit to Mary, its association with the springtime is also significant. 

In the past, food was scarce during the winter months and people would have very few perishable items (such as eggs or milk) on hand. The arrival of spring meant the beginning of soil preparation for farms, and people once again had access to two of the most important ingredients in waffles. It was indeed a time for celebration. 😉 

3. Swedish Waffles… <3

A Waffle with Cream and Jam on It

For most of the population, Waffle Day in Sweden means just one thing: plate after plate of waffles! Typically, Swedish waffles are eaten with grädde (cream), sylt (jam), and sometimes even fresh fruit or berries. For this annual waffle festival, some restaurants will have special deals and many Swedish households will be filled with the aroma of waffles on the iron. 

It’s interesting to note that waffles were not introduced to Sweden until the 1600s, and began as a savory dish rather than the sweet and decadent pastries we think of today. In the nineteenth century, Swedish waffles took on a distinctive shape and design with the introduction of the “Swedish waffle iron” which makes waffles with heart-shaped pieces. Prior to adopting this unique shape, they were square and cooked over a fire. 

4. Another Interesting Tradition… 

In times past, there was another interesting tradition associated with Waffle Day. As we mentioned, this holiday takes place near the beginning of spring, when farmers begin their new crop season. To help the crops grow better, children were encouraged to run barefoot around the house or through a manure pile. This act was also thought to prevent the children’s feet from cracking during the hot summer months! 

That doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it? I think I prefer the waffles… 

5. Essential Swedish Vocabulary for Waffle Day

A Waffle Iron

If learning about this holiday has made you drool, it’s a good sign that you should learn some waffle-related vocabulary! Let’s review some of the Swedish vocabulary words from this article, plus a few more.

  • Smör (Butter) – noun, neutral
  • Mjöl (Flour) – noun, neutral
  • Våffeldagen (Waffle Day) – proper noun
  • Jesus (Jesus) – proper noun
  • Grädde (Cream) – noun, common
  • Våffeljärn (Waffle iron) – noun, neutral
  • Våffla (Waffle) – noun, common
  • Jungfru Maria (Virgin Mary) – proper noun, common
  • Vårfrudagen (Our Lady’s Day) – proper noun
  • Sylt (Jam) – noun, common

Also make sure to check out our Waffle Day vocabulary list. Here, you can listen to the pronunciation of each word and practice along with the audio recording.

Final Thoughts

Who’s ready to bring out the waffle iron and get cooking? *raises hand* 

Seriously though, we hope you enjoyed our lesson on this March 25 holiday and that you’re even more curious about Swedish culture after reading! If you would like to expand your knowledge even further, you can visit the following pages on SwedishPod101.com: 

If you like what we have to offer, please consider creating your free lifetime account today. Doing so will give you access to even more Swedish-language content and lessons! 

Before you go: Do you prefer waffles or pancakes? (We won’t judge…) 😉

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Subscribe to Posted by SwedishPod101.com in Feature Spotlight, Learn Swedish, Site Features, Speak Swedish, Swedish Language, Swedish Online, Team SwedishPod101

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    • Exclusive! App for the iPhone, iPad or Android
    • Full Lesson Library Access: 560+ Audio & Video Lessons
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    • Instructor Feedback & Comments on Each Lesson
    • Progress Tracking: See Your Swedish Progress GROW
    • Learning Guidance: We Guide You Through the Lessons
    • Swedish ONLY Tracks & Line by Line Dialog Breakdown
    • Full Lesson Transcripts, Translations & Review Tracks
    • Lesson Review Quizzes for Extra Practice
    • Smart Flashcards To Master All The Swedish Words You Need
    • 2,000 Top Swedish Words List (enough for conversational fluency)
    • Word Bank to Store Your Key Vocab & Review
    • Voice Recording Tools to Perfect your Pronunciation
    • 24/7 Access via Any Media Device with Internet Access
    • Season Vocabulary Lists To Review All Vocab From Lessons
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    As great as our Premium plan is, however, nothing helps you learn and master Swedish faster than our uber-exclusive PLUS Plan.

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    Well, you know all the lessons, tools and resources in the Premium plan? You get those plus a few secret weapons to help you learn and master Swedish even faster, including:

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    New! 1-on-1 Learning App: Take Premium PLUS with You Everywhere!

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    Click here to get 12 months of Premium PLUS for just $199.

    But hurry: We have VERY LIMITED slots available for Premium PLUS due to a limited number of available Swedish teachers.
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    No questions asked.

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    Click Here to Join the Challenge Today & Save On Premium or Premium PLUS Now!

    To Mastering Swedish,
    Team SwedishPod101

    P.S. Remember, anyone who joins the 12-Month Challenge will also receive 12 months of free access to our exclusive Inner Circle. But hurry: Our 12-Month Challenge ends on January 15th, 2016 so ACT NOW!

    What are you waiting for? Click here to get UNLIMITED Swedish lessons and be part of the exclusive Inner Circle!

    Why Not Save $225 & Learn Swedish 1-on-1 with Effective Lessons?

    Why Not Save $225 & Learn Swedish 1-on-1 with Effective Lessons?

    Greetings, Listener!

    With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind you and hopefully most of your shopping for others complete, it’s time to ask yourself one simple question:

    Are you ready for Why Not Wednesday? Don’t worry, Why Not Wednesday is all about YOU and answering one simple question:

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    The Premium Plan – Unlimited Access to our Effective Learning System
    With your 41% savings, you gain unlimited access to our most popular Premium plan – the complete SwedishPod101 learning system with 100+ hours of lessons – for just:

    • $5.90/Month
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    For the price of one cup of coffee a month, you gain unlimited access to the world’s largest library of Swedish audio and video lessons. Plus, you get loads of time-saving study tools to help you learn faster. Keep reading to find out what you get exactly.

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    The Premium PLUS Plan – Learn Swedish 1-on-1 With Your Own Teacher
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    Lack of time is another reason people fail to realize their dream.

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    • Exclusive! App for the iPhone, iPad or Android
    • Full Lesson Library Access: 560+ Swedish Lessons
    • User Favorite! New Audio & Video Lessons EVERY WEEK!
    • PDF Lesson Notes for Each Lesson to Read Along With
    • Instructor Feedback & Comments on Each Lesson
    • Progress Tracking: See Your Swedish Progress Grow
    • Learning Guidance: We Guide You Through the Lessons
    • Swedish ONLY Tracks & Line by Line Dialog Breakdown
    • Full Lesson Transcripts, Translations & Review Tracks
    • Lesson Review Quizzes for Extra Practice
    • Smart Flashcards To Master All The Swedish Words You Need
    • 2,000 Top Swedish Words List (enough for conversational fluency)
    • Word Bank to Store & Review Your Key Vocab & Phrases
    • Voice Recording Tools to Perfect your Pronunciation
    • 24/7 Access via Any Media Device with Internet Access
    • Season Vocabulary Lists To Review All Vocab From Lessons
    • Exclusive! Custom Lists App to Create Your Own Word Lists

    Click here to learn Swedish for just $5.90/month with Premium!

    But to learn Swedish in the shortest time possible and take full advantage of the world’s fastest, easiest and most effective Swedish learning system, we strongly recommend you sign up for our rarely discounted and most advanced: Premium PLUS.

    In addition to access to everything in Premium, our Premium PLUS members also get:

    • Professional Assessment: Get a personal assessment of your Swedish. Understand your strengths and weaknesses so you know what to study next.
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    • 1-on-1 Interaction: Learn with your teacher via Premium PLUS My Teacher. Get help with all your questions, problems and guidance most self-learners never get.
    • Voice Analysis to Perfect Your Speaking: Learn to speak like a native speaker with the help of a real native speaker! Record yourself with Premium PLUS My Teacher and your teacher will give you crucial feedback on what to improve and how.

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    To The “Why Not” Mindset,

    Team SwedishPod101

    P.S. We rarely regret the things we have done in life – it’s the things we wanted to do but didn’t that haunt us! So don’t let your dream of learning Swedish go unfulfilled for even one more day – get a BIG 41% OFF Premium or Premium PLUS! Hurry: Why Not Wednesday ends tonight, December 2nd, 2015. Put your dreams on the fast track and act now!

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    Cyber Monday 50% OFF! You’ll Learn Swedish for the Price of 1 Monthly Coffee

    Cyber Monday 50% OFF! You’ll Learn Swedish for the Price of 1 Monthly Coffee

    Greetings Listener!

    With the hustle of Black Friday behind us and tomorrow’s Cyber Monday looming…we thought we would offer you a sneak peek and a chance to treat yourself to a:

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    Cyber Monday 50% OFF! You’ll Learn Swedish for the Price of 1 Monthly Coffee

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    What can $5 get you? A cup of coffee?
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    But that’s not all. You unlock our entire Swedish learning system with Premium. This includes these specially designed time-saving tools and resources:

    • Exclusive! App for the iPhone, iPad or Android
    • Full Lesson Library Access: 560+ Swedish Lessons
    • User Favorite! New Audio & Video Lessons EVERY WEEK!
    • PDF Lesson Notes for Each Lesson to Read Along With
    • Instructor Feedback & Comments on Each Lesson
    • Progress Tracking: See Your Swedish Progress Grow
    • Learning Guidance: We Guide You Through the Lessons
    • Swedish ONLY Tracks & Line by Line Dialog Breakdown
    • Full Lesson Transcripts, Translations & Review Tracks
    • Lesson Review Quizzes for Extra Practice
    • Smart Flashcards To Master All The Swedish Words You Need
    • 2,000 Top Swedish Words List (enough for conversational fluency)
    • Word Bank to Store & Review Your Key Vocab & Phrases
    • Voice Recording Tools to Perfect your Pronunciation
    • 24/7 Access via Any Media Device with Internet Access
    • Season Vocabulary Lists To Review All Vocab From Lessons
    • Exclusive! Custom Lists App to Create Your Own Word Lists

    Sneak Peek! Click here to learn Swedish for as low as $5/month or $0.16/day!

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    The holidays are about giving. But some of the most important gifts in life are those you give to yourself! Learning Swedish can profoundly and positively change your life forever, but it’s not something you can put on someone else’s wish list:

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    To Realizing Your Dreams,

    Team SwedishPod101

    P.S. Hurry! Your last and only chance to get 50% off ends tomorrow. That’s tomorrow, 11:59PM, November 30th, 2015, sharp! So claim your early access Cyber Monday discount to save up to $120. Act Now!

    Click here to learn Swedish ONLINE for as low as $0.16 cents/day!