Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Soggy Walpurgis Night

image borrowed from Souls of Sweden on Tumblr
Hey, it's Walpurgis Eve; let's light a bonfire! Except, here in Minnesota, all the wood is wet, and so are the fire pits.

If I was really in tune with my northern European roots, I would have planned ahead, I suppose, and covered my wood pile to keep it dry for the occasion. 

Walpurgis Eve, or Walpurgis Night, is a festival celebrated on the eve of May Day with bonfires and community in Sweden (where it's an official holiday), Finland, Germany, Estonia, and other parts of northern Europe. It's considered the true beginning of spring, and many of those bonfires are fueled by the shrub trimmings and other debris of spring garden cleanup (according to How convenient.

Since Minnesota boasts a strong Swedish and German heritage, I'm a little surprised I hadn't heard of this holiday before. Perhaps those New England Protestants who preceded the Swedes here managed to suppress this particular remnant of paganism, which happens to fall exactly six months after Halloween.

Although the occasion is named for an eighth century German abbess, Saint Walpurga, whose feast day is May 1, it holds nothing in common with Christianity other than its name. 

But with more rain in the forecast and temperatures dipping into the 30s again tonight, I think I'll observe the occasion indoors. Perhaps I'll turn up the thermostat.

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