This Saturday I’m going to participate in a Walpurgis night which is a big deal here in Germany. They celebrate as a traditional spring festival from 30 of April to 1st of May. What I like of it that it’s always celebrated with kids involved and dancing around a huge bonfires.
The origin of Walpurgis
The current festival is, in most countries that celebrate it, named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga (ca. 710–777/9). As Walburga was canonized on 1st of May (ca. 870), she became associated with May Day, especially in the Finnish and Swedish calendars. Nowadays the eve of May day, traditionally celebrated with dancing, and with bonfire came to be known as Walpurgisnacht (“Walpurga’s night”).
In Germany, Walpurgisnacht, the night on 30 of April, is the night when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the top of the Brocken mountain and await the arrival of spring. According to the calendar it is exactly six months from All Hallows’ Eve.
But according to Jacob Grimm, the great storyteller, in Germany the witches gathered at the top of the Brockenberg which is the highest of the Harz Mountains of north central Germany. It was a perfect place for spells and miracles because the mountain is/was noted for the phenomenon of the Brocken spectre (ghost) and therefore for witches’ revels which reputedly took place there on Walpurgis’s night. Scientifically the Brocken Spectre is a magnified shadow of an observer, typically surrounded by rainbow-like bands, thrown onto a bank of cloud in high mountain areas when the sun is low. The phenomenon was first reported on the Brocken.
In some parts of northern coastal regions of Germany, the custom of lighting huge fires is still kept alive to celebrate the coming of May, while most parts of Germany have a derived Christianized custom around Easter called “Easter fires”.
In rural parts of southern Germany, it is part of popular youth culture to play pranks (trick or treat) such as tampering with neighbor’s gardens, hiding possessions, or spraying graffiti on private property.
In Berlin, traditional leftist May Day riots usually start at Walpurgis Night in the Mauerpark and in Prenzlauer Berg. There is a similar tradition in the Schanzenviertel district of Hamburg, though in both cases, the situation has significantly calmed down in the past few years.
What about me?
On the 30d of April I’m going to a small village, called Krailling, (it’s near München, close to the Lake Starnberg ) to celebrate the Walpurgis night! There will be lots of funny events such as Witch soup making (from herbs), broom making, (of course), bread baking on open fire and we will dance around a huge bonfire!!!! Can’t wait! If you are happened to be in the neighborhood you must come and dance with me!