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Young people circling a fire.
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Bonfires are an important part of Walpurgis Even celebrations in Sweden. Credit: Johan Nilsson / TT
Students wearing traditional white captain's hats.
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The Donning of the Caps ceremony at Uppsala Univeristy. Credit: PONTUS LUNDAHL / TT
Groups of young people drinking.
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Drinking is an essential part of Valborg celebrations. Credit: Johan Nilsson / TT

What is Valborgsmässoafton?

Cultural historian: The Church was concerned about people shouting and drinking in the villages.
6:53 min

Sweden celebrates Valborg or Walpurgis Eve on the last day in April every year. Like many holidays in Sweden, this traditionally Christian celebration no longer has much to do with religion, but rather is a celebration of the arrival of spring.

Swedes welcome spring on Walpurgis Eve across the country with music, alcohol, and community bonfires. It is also the day when students don the traditional white captain’s hats and sing songs in university towns.

Radio Sweden spoke with Jonas Engman, head of archives at Nordiska Museet, about the rituals of drinking and bonfires as well as how the holiday started.

"Valborg celebrations coincided with a lot of other customs that we had. For some reason it became very popular," he said. "The Church was really concerned about Valborg...They were really upset about people going around screaming, shouting, and even drinking in the villages."


Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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