Have you ever come across the term “Walpurgisnacht” while learning the German language in the best German language institute? If you have, do you have any idea why it is so fondly celebrated in many parts of northern Europe?
Well! Walpurgisnacht, also known as ‘Walpurgis Night’, ‘Vappu’ and ‘Saint Walpurga’s Eve’is referred to the night of the feast day of Saint Walpurgis. On every 30th April, people hailing from Northern Europe enjoy their holiday by celebrating the Walpurgis Night. Basically, Walpurgisnacht is a spring celebration which has a remarkable resemblance to Halloween.
Who was Saint Walpurga?
Saint Walpurga who also goes by the namesValborg, Wealdburg and Valderburger were born in the 710 AD. She was summoned by his brother Winebald, to serve as a Head NuninHeidenheim.She was acknowledged by the Christians as she stood against the witchcraft. After her death in 779 AD, she was canonized on the 1st of May which is why the Walpurgisnacht is celebrated on this particular day.
However, you might get surprised to know that Walpurgisnacht has no connection with either Saint Walpurga or Christianity. The origin of Walpurgis Night dates back to the era when there was no Christianity in Northern Europe. As Walpurgisnacht falls during the arrival of the spring season, the pagans used to conduct rituals to welcome spring and wish for the fertility of the land.
Witches and Walpurgisnacht
Other than Saint Walpurgis, the Walpurgis Night is also related to witches. As per the German folklore, witches used to meet on the highest peak Brocken, in the mountain of the Harz situated in Central Germany. As Saint Walpurgis succeeded in converting the local population in Christianity, they prayed to God through Saint Walpurgis to protect them from the evil witches and witchcraft.
Tradition of Walpurgisnacht
As the German folklore said that witches used to roam around freely on the Night of Walpurgis, people began to develop various practices to keep the evil entities away. This is the reason why people in Germany disguise as a witch and make loud noises on the Walpurgis Night. Apart from that, on this day, people would hang blessed twigs of vegetation taken out from homes or barns and also leave bread with honey and butter as an offering to ward off the vindictive witches. In addition, lightening a bonfire is another popular tradition of the Walpurgis Night which is also carried out to keep the witches at bay.
Although Walpurgisnacht was originated in Germany, it has spread over many countries such as Finland, Sweden, etc. Walpurgis Night is such an important festival in Northern Europe that 1st of May is even regarded as a traditional holiday. Therefore, make certain that you too celebrate Walpurgisnacht in your German language classes with great pleasure and enthusiasm. HAPPY WALPURGISNACHT!