Posted: 05/13/11 | May 13th, 2011
While I was in Sweden, I was able to experience one of the coolest holidays in the country: Valborg Day.
Held at the end of April, it’s the traditional Swedish welcoming of spring. It’s 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. Here’s a video to show you just want Valborg Day in Sweden is like:
One of the most interesting things you can do when traveling is taking part in local holidays and festivals. You’ll get to learn a lot about a destination’s history and culture while meeting lots of locals in the process. It will make your trip much more memorable when compared to just seeing the standard sights and tourist attractions.
If you’re planning a trip to Sweden, try to be there for Valborg Day. You won’t regret it!
The music is a Swedish folk song by Yvonne Roome.
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