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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- “Holidays in Sweden” Series at SwedishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Swedish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 5, Walpurgis Night. In Swedish, it’s called valborgsmässoafton.
Walpurgis Night is celebrated on April 30, and probably stems from a pagan holiday, or hednisk högtid, from Germany. Over the years, it has been celebrated in Sweden for many different reasons!
In this lesson, you will learn about why we celebrate Walpurgis in Sweden today, and the significance that Walpurgis has had in the past.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?:
Do you know what happens the day after Walpurgis Night, on May 1?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In the past, when Christianity came to Sweden, it was believed that witches, or häxor, during Walpurgis Night, rode on broomsticks or goats to old sacrificial grounds to cause mischief in the Devil’s company. In defense of these horrible things, people lit fires and made noises. Walpurgis Night was therefore really about protecting yourself from witches, and warding off the evil spirits, or onda andar!
Nowadays, there are very few people that would think of scaring away witches on Walpurgis Night. Before Christianity came to Sweden, the Swedes celebrated the spring and the light arriving, or ljuset kommer. They lit fires to burn off the old to make room for the new. Swedish winters are very long and dark, so it was natural to celebrate the light finally arriving. Nowadays, usually a big fire, or stor eld, is made where people gather around, sing songs, grill sausages, and just have a nice cosy time together.
Walpurgis Night is also a big holiday for many Swedish and Finnish universities and colleges. On April 30 each year, the students will wear their student caps, or studentmössor, and many different events are organized. Usually a lot of different bands are playing and spring speeches are made. At times, competitions are also arranged. In the university town of Uppsala, a rafting competition is held every year, and this has been done since 1975. Every year, thousands of people gather to watch the competition take place.
In pagan times, the Nordic countries used to celebrate an older holiday, on the same day, that was linked to the dead. The boundary between the living and the dead was considered to be the weakest precisely during this special night.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question.
Do you know what happens the day after Walpurgis Night, on May 1st?
May 1st is usually the day that various left-wing organizations hold demos and meetings around the world, and this definitely occurs in Sweden! The first May Day Demonstration was held in Sweden during the 1890s.
How did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you believe in witches?
Leave us a comment letting us know at SwedishPod101.com. And we'll see you in the next lesson!