So it was time for our next Swedish experience, Walpurgis Eve (in English), or Valborg (in Swedish), is the official welcoming of spring. It is traditional to light fires, enjoy each others company, and sing songs together, and happens on the last day of April. Officially, spring has arrived when the daily average temperature tops zero degrees Celsius for seven days in a row here in Sweden….a tough one recently with snow falling not so long ago, but large parts of the country are now managing to confirm this has happened….at last! The Swedish are celebrating the end of the harsh winter (less harsh down here in the south, but still dark, cold, and long!), and looking forward to the summer sunshine….especially on our island where its nickname is Little Hawaii 🙂 This event is named after St. Walpurga (which is Valborg in Swedish), an English missionary who celebrated Christianity in other parts of Europe. These days, it is more to do with spring than Christianity. The King also happens to have his birthday on this day, but that is just a lovely coincidence. The larger cities take on more of an all day party feel, with students kicking off their day with champagne breakfasts, and the celebrations go from there. There are some huge bonfires too in the larger cities, with lots of other traditions going on as well. You may even be passed a warming hot cup of liquid as well……some lovely nettle soup as soon as the snow melts here they are springing up. A sure sign spring has arrived.
So what did we get up to on our lovely little island we call home? In the harbour at the North West part of the island, there was a larger community bonfire. We set off on our bikes to experience this celebration for the first time at this location. On the way, we saw many relaxing with barbecues or their own fires, in the early spring sunshine (fully dressed in hats and gloves still!), with the boat houses open for the first time I have seen. It was so lovely to see the island alive after the long winter. There are always people out walking/running/cycling around the island, but there was just a more relaxed vibe about tonight, and whilst it was still cold, people were happy to sit outdoors and enjoy their food, rather then hunkering down back indoors. A true feeling that spring is finally coming. We decided this year to feed our tribe earlier, and just turn up and see what happens. Next year I think we too will be grilling sausages along with everyone else. As it was, our 5 year old twins were nearly collapsed with tiredness once we got home at the grand time of 8pm!!
The fire was lit and everyone had a little sing song, and after that was over people got back to just chilling with their drinks and food, or started their grilling and relaxing with their friends. People who were not cooking were already drifting away back to their cosy homes and we followed soon after with our tired trio. But we had thoroughly enjoyed out first Valborg in our new home.
With the sun setting, and the smoking embers of the bonfire in the distance, voices could be heard happily chattering away , enjoying each other’s company and cooking outdoors. As we cycled away it was like the island was on fire, there was so much smoke rising from it, from all the fires that had been lit in celebration. I am thinking I really like this celebration and its cosy feel, and whilst I don’t wish my little people to grow up too fast, I am looking forward to when the smaller 2 are a little older and we too can chill with them and some drink and food, instead of pedalling back home for bedtime 🙂