While I was in Sweden, I got to experience Valborg Day, the traditional Swedish welcoming of spring. This day occurs on April 30th and is a time of festivity, food, music, friends, nature, and huge bonfires. In fact, it seems for most Swedes, the whole day is one giant excuse to drink and light a huge fire.
In old times, the bonfires were used to scare away predators before the farm animals were let out to graze at the start of spring. Now, the day has become a holiday where Swedes, long attached to nature and the changing seasons, celebrate the end of winter with a big party. Many Swedes head out into the country to party with their friends. Celebrations often start with a breakfast including champagne and strawberries in a park.
Most towns have celebrations featuring traditional music, dancing, and a bonfire. The biggest celebration occurs in the university town of Uppsala, where over 100,000 people come to celebrate Valborg. Uppsala also features students rafting on the Fyrisån River through the town center with homemade, themed, decorated rafts, which usually break and collapse by the end of the race. Needless to say, this is a giant celebration and especially good for those looking to party.
I didn’t go to Uppsala, though. I went to the more traditional Valborg celebration in Skansen. Skansen is an area in Stockholm with a traditional village, zoo, garden, and hiking trails. During Valborg, they have traditional dancing, music, vendors, and of course, a big bonfire. I enjoyed the music and dancing even though I didn’t understand what they were saying. Before the bonfire is lit, there was a very long speech about the coming spring, the holiday’s history, and how the bonfire helps chase away evil spirits. The Swedes seemed as bored as I was, and when the bonfire lighting began, the crowd erupted with joy. After all, the fire was pretty amazing:
The music is a Swedish folk song by Yvonne Roome. If you want to see more of my travel videos, check out my YouTube page.
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