Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Happy Walpurgis Night, everyone!
Countess Bathory rises again from LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS (1970).
From Wikipedia: Walpurgisnacht is derived from Pagan spring customs. In the Norse tradition, Walpurgisnacht is considered the "Enclosure of the Fallen." It commemorates the time when Odin died to retrieve the knowledge of the runes, and the night is said to be a time of weakness in the boundary between the living and the dead. Bonfires were built to keep away the dead and chaotic spirits that were said to walk among the living then.
In Germany, Walpurgisnacht (or Hexennacht, meaning Witches' Night) is the night when allegedly the witches hold a large celebration on the Blocksberg and await the arrival of Spring. In some parts of northern coastal regions of Germany, the custom of lighting huge Beltane 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".
Walpurgis (sw: Valborgsmässoafton or Valborg) is one of the main holidays during the year in Sweden, alongside Christmas and Midsummer holiday. One of the main traditions in Sweden is to light large bonfires, a custom which is most firmly established in Svealand, and which began in Uppland during the 18th century.
Today in Finland, Walpurgis Night (Vapunaatto, Valborgsmässoafton) is, along with New Year's Eve and Juhannus, the biggest carnival-style festivity that takes place in the streets of Finland's towns and cities. The celebration is typically centered on plentiful use of sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages.
In Estonia, Volbriöö is celebrated as one of the main reasons to party across the country. Influenced by German culture, the night originally stood for the gathering and meeting of witches. Nowadays some people still dress up as witches and wander the streets in a carnival-like mood. The following day (May 1) is known as Kaatripäev (Hangover Day, derived from the German word 'Kater' meaning 'Hangover').
Whatever April 30th means (or doesn't mean) to you, please have a safe and sane, Walpurgisnacht!