Walpurgisnacht. Valborgsmässoafton. Försommarafton. Last of April. May Day Eve. It doesn’t matter what language we say it in or by what name we call it, the night before (and day of) May 1st has a long and important history in Scandinavian and Germanic religious and cultural tradition. Traditions vary from country to country but the merriment is the same. German folklore tells us that on this night, “witches” gather on the Brocken mountain to hold revels to their gods. Sir James Frazer, in The Golden Bough, says this of Swedish customs: “The first of May is a great popular festival in the more midland and southern parts of Sweden. On the eve of the festival, huge bonfires, which should be lighted by striking two flints together, blaze on all the hills and knolls.” May Day celebrations are Springtime festivals when communities can gather and have the first real party of the year.
There are many superstitions about the eve of May Day but my personal favorite is a Swedish superstition about gathering wildflowers. It is believed that if you gather seven different types of wild flowers on this night and place them under your pillow when you go to sleep, you will have a dream about the person you are going to marry. I recall a few bonfire superstitions from my childhood where it was believed that boys coming of age that year who were able to leap a fire would grow to be strong, brave, and successful.
I would like to wish you all a happy and magical May Day Eve and a wonderful Försommar!