In Zweden is weliswaar de koning jarig vandaag, maar dat wordt niet gevierd. Er wordt gevierd dat met de lente het licht teruggekeerd is.
Hier in Zweden vieren we vandaag Valborgsmässoafton. Overal worden grote vuren aangelegd. Dit om de terugkeer van de zon te bespoedigen en de lente te verwelkomen. Rond de vuren lezen de Zweden gedichten op en zingen liederen. Ook wordt er vaak vuurwerk afgestoken (wat nog bij bij de Paastraditie hoort waar ik eerder over schreef).
Vroeger was Walpurgisnacht vooral een speciale dag voor de boeren. Tot het einde van april was het voor de boeren hard werken om alle omheiningen rondom de weiden in orde te brengen. Op 1 mei, na een lange winter, ging het vee voor het eerst weer naar buiten het land op. Het vuur in de avond van Walpurgisnacht was dan ook een vreugdevuur. En het vuurwerk werd afgestoken om kwade geesten terug het bos in te jagen, zodat het vee weer veilig kon grazen.
Tegenwoordig staat dit feest vooral in het teken van grote hoeveelheden drank en gezelligheid (vergelijkbaar met het Hollandse ‘Konniginnenach’).
Wikipedia verteld het volgende over deze eeuwenoude traditie:
The current festival is, in most countries that celebrate it, named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga (ca. 710–777/9). As Walburga was canonized on 1st of May (ca. 870), she became associated with May Day, especially in the Finnish and Swedish calendars. The eve of May day, traditionally celebrated with dancing, came to be known as Walpurgisnacht (“Walpurga’s night”). The name of the holiday is Walpurgisnacht in German and Dutch, Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish, Vappu in Finnish, Volbriöö, (Walpurgi öö) in Estonian, Valpurgijos naktis in Lithuanian, Valpurģu nakts or Valpurģi in Latvian, čarodějnice or Valpuržina noc in Czech, chódotypalenje Lower Sorbian and chodojtypalenje in Upper Sorbian.
The German term is recorded in 1668 by Johannes Praetorius as S. Walpurgis Nacht or S. Walpurgis Abend. An earlier mention of Walpurgis and S. Walpurgis Abend is in the 1603 edition of the Calendarium perpetuum of Johann Coler, who also refers to the following day, 1 May, as Jacobi Philippi, feast day of the apostles James the Less and Philip in the Catholic calendar.
The 17th century German tradition of a meeting of sorcerers and witches on May Day is influenced by the descriptions of Witches’ Sabbaths in 15th and 16th century literature.
In Sweden, Walpurgis Night (Swedish: Valborgsmässoafton or simply Valborg, Vappen in Finland) has more or less become a de facto half holiday. The forms of celebration in Sweden vary in different parts of the country and between different cities. Sir James George Frazer in The Golden Bough writes, “The first of May is a great popular festival in the more midland and southern parts of Sweden. On the eve of the festival, huge bonfires, which should be lighted by striking two flints together, blaze on all the hills and knolls.” One of the main traditions in Sweden is to light large bonfires, a custom that is most firmly established in Svealand and may have begun in Uppland during the 18th century: “At Walpurgis (Valborg), farm animals were let out to graze, and ever since the early 18th century bonfires (majbrasor, kasar) have been lit to scare away predators.”  In Southern Sweden, an older tradition, no longer practised, was for the younger people to collect greenery and branches from the woods at twilight, these were used to adorn the houses of the village. The expected reward for this task was to be paid in eggs.
Singing traditional songs of spring is widespread throughout the country. The songs are mostly from the 19th century and were spread by students’ spring festivities. The strongest and most traditional spring festivities are also found in the old university cities, such as Uppsala and Lund, where undergraduates, graduates and alumni gather at events that last most of the day from early morning to late night on 30 April, or sista april (“The Last Day Of April”) as it is called in Lund and often Uppsala. More modern Valborg celebrations, particularly among Uppsala students, oftentimes consist of enjoying a breakfast including champagne and strawberries. During the day, people gather in parks, drink considerable amounts of alcoholic beverages, barbecue and generally enjoy the weather, if it happens to be favourable.
In Uppsala, since the mid-1970s, students also go rafting on Fyrisån through the centre of town with home-made, in fact quite easily wreckable, and often humorously decorated rafts. Several nations also hold “Champagne Races”, where students go to drink and spray champagne or somewhat more modestly priced sparkling wine on each other. The walls and floors of the old nation buildings are covered in plastic for this occasion, as the champagne is poured around recklessly and sometimes spilled enough to wade in. Spraying champagne is, however, a fairly recent addition to the Champagne Race. The name derives from the students running down the downhill slope from the Carolina Rediviva library, toward the Student Nations, to drink champagne.
In Linköping, the students and public gather at the courtyard of Linköping Castle. Spring songs are sung by the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, and speeches are made by representatives of the students and the university teachers.
In Gothenburg, the carnival parade, The Cortège, which has been held since 1909 by the students at Chalmers University of Technology, is an important part of the celebration. It is seen by around 250,000 people each year. Another major event is the gathering of students in Trädgårdsföreningen to listen to student choirs, orchestras and speeches. An important part of the gathering is the ceremonial donning of the student cap, which stems from the time when students wore their caps daily and switched from black winter cap to white summer cap.
In Umeå, there is a tradition of having local bonfires. During the last years, however, there have been a tradition of celebrating Walpurgis at the Umeå University campus. The university organizes student choir song, there are different type of entertainments and also a speech by the president of the university. Different stalls sell hot dogs, candies, soft drinks etc.
While Walpurgis is not celebrated in The Netherlands due to their national Queens-Day falling on the same date, the small island of Texel celebrates a festival known as the ‘Meierblis’ (roughly translated as ‘May-Blaze’) on that same day, when bonfires are lit near nightfall, just as on Walpurgis. Though the local folklore may have tainted its true meaning over the years there is still a possibility that this was once a Walpurgis night. These days it is seen as a symbolic start for the upcoming warm weather. Winters in the Netherlands tend to be strongest in January and February; the May-blaze is a symbolic festival to drive away the last bits of winter with bonfires which are lit all over the island.