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Valborg-Walpurgis Eve and May Day

On Sweden’s Valborg-Walpurgis Eve on April 30th Swedes are lighting bonfires to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. People gather by the light and heat of the fire to listen to choirs performing a number of traditional spring songs. “Valborgsmässoafton” is an ancient custom: it was done to scare off predators before the cattle and sheep were let out to graze but also to protect people against evil spirits believed to be gathering on this very night.

Once the fire dies there’s time for a few hours sleep before it’s time to get ready for the May Day processions and speeches. This is an annual manifestation day of the Swedish labor movement and has been celebrated all around the country since 1890. May Day became an official holiday in Sweden in 1939

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