Walpurgis celebration in Sweden, a short guide

There is a picture stuck in my head since I was in Stockholm with my family years ago. I was a child then, but still something which really got me were all these teenagers going around with boxes of beer. It was Walpurgis that day!

Drink, drink, drink. Have fun. Sleep less or nothing. Hungover the day after.

This would be the start and the end of my post, if I were a Swede. Unfortunately, or luckily, I am from a place best known for pizza, pasta, ice-cream, and amazing history.

Ok, sorry for these extra stereotyped pictures, but this is what I have been actually learning since a while. There are two big days in Sweden that need to be celebrated properly during the year, where celebration and properly stand for getting drunk, do not remember anything the day after and hungover. One of them is Walpurgis (known as “Valborgsafton” in Swedish, that means “Walpurgis’ evening, ‘cause you know, Swedes like to celebrate the day before, especially to be ready to be hungover the day after), and the other one is Midsummer (Midsommarafton, here as well, you drink all the day, stay awake all the night, and naturally are hungover the day after, a point that I really do not get!). Even though you did not get a so optimist view of it so far, I really like how most of the celebrations still relate to some Pagan celebrations, thus related to seasons and nature. 1st of May stands here for the first day of Spring, guess what, I cannot blame them for their will (and need) to celebrate. Most of the times you will likely not have a Spring feeling at all, since it could be still pretty cold, but the light is already lighting the days much longer than the dear old winter you just got through.

Midsummer (the night between Friday and Saturday after the 21st of June) is instead the start of the summer and the celebration of the longest day of the year. Here in Värmland we do not have the midnight sun, but still, there is almost just 1 hour of pitch dark in that night.

As said, traditional of the two days is the bad weather, as it is for example in Italy with the day after Easter.

What is actually usual to do in the weekend of Walpurgis is to stay with people, enjoy the long days (preferably the warm), drink, eat, sing a lot, and gather around the fire. I was at campus just some hours ago and saw the students already drunk at 6, always smile when I see these scenes! Very particular is the champagne breakfast which you can have both on Saturday and Sunday (the 30th of April and the 1st of May).

My weekend is gonna look pretty Swedish I think, since my desire is actually that of experiencing Valborg as much as it gets. Tonight I am gonna get as much sleep as I can, since starting from tomorrow morning, I will have around 40 hours awaken. I am skipping some of the singings with the choir in the morning, but I will start singing with them in the big square in Karlstad (Stora Torget) at 15, sound checking at 14.15. I will borrow a studentmössa (the hat Swedish high-school students wear at the end of their last year of school to run out of the school and take pictures – it looks as a sailor hat!) from a girl I know from some courses at uni, and will sing a lot of traditional Spring songs, of course in Swedish. For this, tomorrow I will try to do my best and learn all the words by heart.

Later, we will sing at the bishop’s house. I think I will also go to the city park to gather around the bonfire for a while, since there will not be any in the square and I really want to experience that, and the man choir is gonna sing with another choir. Later, we will go to a kind of cottage (“stuga”!?) where we will start our party (“sittning”) with both the man and woman choir. We get food, dance, sing and have fun, trying to make the others awake until the day after. The challenge is to stay awake until 15 – forgot to say that, at 15 the day before we will put the hat on our heads, supposed not to take it off but 24 hours later!). I will go home at 9 a.m. because at 10 I have to stay at Bunkern to work for the Hungover Sunday, which is the most incredible thing you could do at the pub (because you need to slice 10 kg of bacon and fry it!). No people seemed to be available to work there on Sunday (guess what!?) so I took the shift ‘cause it sounded as a great and funny experience!

Now I will get my 10 hours of sleep (hope I do not wake up because of the light, which among my friends seems to be a common problem!) and will see you soon. Need to take a pic of my face every 12 hours I will be awake tomorrow! 😉

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