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27.05.2019

Waluburgis Night

Waluburgis Night or May Eve is the old Germanic holiday celebrated at night between 30th of April and 1st of May. It is one of the main holidays during the year alongside of Yule and Midsummer.

The name of the holiday relates with a girl who was born year 710 in Wessex. Her name was Valborg. When she grew up, together with brothers she moved to Germany and became a nun. Her brother Wunibald founded the convent of Heidenheim where she lived long time. Valborg died in February 779, and it is still her day in Catholic calendar. But just 1st of May this woman became saint and in Swedish calendar 1st of May carries her name. Same time vikings have being celebrated the spring coming and fertility. The date of Valborg canonization is coincidental to the date of the pagan celebrations, so that people were able to celebrate both events under church law without fear of reprisal. 

The day symbolized the end of winter days and beginning of summer. It was believed that this night evil spirits were let loose for a season. because of this vikings lighted huge bonfires to keep witches and evil spirits away from their homes. Nowadays the tradition of bonfires was kept, younger people also collect greens at twilight and decorate houses. But anyway in different contries celebration varies. In Sweden except of bonfires people sing traditional spring folk songs.

In Germany people wear costumes, play jokes at the streets, make noise to scary evil spirits. Also in order to protect home they decorate it with blessed springs of foliage, sometimes for phantoms they put bread with butter and honey. 

In Finland Waluburgis Night and May Day are almost connected to one holiday and usually called Vappu. First, just Finnish upper class celebrated it but after 19th century students took it up. Nowadays it is usually family holiday with picnics in the park.

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