On April 30 (exactly six months before Halloween), Sweden celebrates one of its main traditions – Walpurgis Night. The holiday, which has its roots in the Viking Era, is a pagan event which pays homage to fertility and the arrival of spring.
History says that after the Norse were Christianized, pagans were combined with the legend of St. Walburga, who cured illnesses. After her death, she was made a saint on May 1st. Therefore, people celebrate both her being canonized and the pagan celebration of spring at the same time.
Throughout the country, Walpurgis is honored. In Uppsala, students raft through the center of town on homemade rafts. Over in Linköping, a city in southern middle Sweden, people gather at the Linköping Castle where the university’s male choir performs. In Gothenburg, a parade takes place.
Expect to find large bonfires throughout the country – it’s a tradition with roots back to the 18th century when it was believed that lighting these fires would keep away evil spirits, such as demons and witches. If in Stockholm, be sure to pay a visit to the Skansen Open Air Museum, which hosts the largest event.