25 Jun 2024
Valborg: the Lowdown on Sweden’s Bonfire Night
Community Swedish Culture Tourist Information What's on: Stockholm

Valborg: the Lowdown on Sweden’s Bonfire Night

There is nothing says Spring in Sweden better than a good old bonfire and a men’s choir! Don’t miss the annual gatherings this Wednesday for a Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis night) to remember!

 
RELATED POST: FIND OUT WHAT STOCKHOLMERS SAY ABOUT VALBORG!

Tradition

Every year on the 30th of April Sweden is set ablaze in revelry of the emerging spring. The celebration known as Valborg causes communities throughout Sweden to unite in spirit  and gather around massive bonfires, singing songs to welcome spring to these northern shores.  It’s a celebration for people of all ages and the best part is –  it’s free. Just show up and get ready to interact more with Swedes than you have through the entire winter.

In many places, especially university towns, Valborg celebrations are known to start off in the afternoon or even morning with picnics in the park or country side, generally with champagne and beer in abundance. Who can argue with that?

But it is as the sun goes down that Swedes really get into the spirit of the day and gather at one of the various designated bonfire sites to sing folk songs, dance, drink and watch fireworks. In most places the varm korv (hot dog) vendors will be close by to satisfy any mid-party cravings. Guaranteed these bonfires are the biggest controlled fires many people have ever seen up-close, but not to worry, firefighters are at the scene to start and stop the blaze.

History of Valborg

Historically Valborg is derived from the Viking fertility celebrations that took place around April 30th, where the arrival of spring was celebrated with bonfires at night. The actual purpose of the fires was to scare off witches and evil spirits. A practical use for the bonfires was also to scare off predators such as foxes before the livestock were let out to graze on May 1st. In the Middle Ages, the pagan Spring ritual became associated with Saint Walpurga who was declared a saint during this time of the year.

Today, however, Swedes tend to look at this holiday as a chance to welcome Spring and light evenings back after a long winter. And there is certainly a point to that!

 

Bonfire gatherings in Stockholm

Central

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