Walpurgis Night is a traditional European festival on April 30th. It was named after Saint Walburga, whose feast day was celebrated on May 1st on the day of her canonization until the Middle Ages. As a dance in May, it has also found its way into private and commercial events as an urban, modern festival due to the opportunity for dancing and socializing on the eve of May Day.
Many Walpurgis rites live on in peasant Mayan customs. In folk tradition, people protected their courtyards by cracking whips at night, laying brooms and maybushes. The maypole, usually a birch, is both a symbol of fertility and a representative of the world tree. At Walpurgis, the maypoles are traditionally brought from the forest to the village to be placed in front of the house for loved ones. There is dancing around the tree in the center of the village. The tree symbolizes the fertility of nature that is brought to people. Ritual acts of love in the fields in pre-Christian times were supposed to transfer human fertility to the arable land. The monoliths in Wendland, known as Brautstein, play a special role here and were viewed as petrified bridal couples. It should have been the custom
Many of the customs of spring festivals revolve around young couples who are symbolic of human community. The corridor between two Walpurgis fires is supposed to cleanse and keep epidemics away (Walpurgis is the patron saint of plague, coughs and rabies). The witch fires, which are still celebrated in large parts of Germany today, presumably go back to this tradition. With Christianization, which was handled very rigorously, not only in Germany, these old customs were condemned as pagan, the original meaning, which according to some researchers went back to matriarchal social structures, was lost and in harmless rural youth customs.
The Hexenfeuer (also called Hexenbrennen, Maifeuer, Tanz in den Mai) is celebrated in large parts of Germany. To this end, a fire is kindled on April 30th, with which one wants to drive away “the evil spirits”. This is celebrated late into the night. If the fire has burned down a bit, the maize jump takes place in some areas, a tradition in which it is common for lovers to jump over the May fire together. Occasionally there are wooden “witches” on the witch’s fire, mostly made by the youth.
The dance in May is the modern form of the old custom of greeting the beginning of May (May 1st) on Walpurgis Night (April 30th) with dancing and singing while drinking maypowls. In addition to pure dance events, there is also the custom of dressing up similar to Halloween or carnival and performing “witch dances”. In Austria, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Upper Lusatia, a maypole is usually set up in the evening or morning of May 1st, which is usually a spruce or fir tree. In other regions, however, this custom is only observed on the morning of May 1st. Occasionally there is also the custom of the corn line: During the night, white lines are drawn with chalk, lime or the like in secret lovers from the house of one to the house of the other and thus made public. Elsewhere, chaff is scattered instead of drawing white lines. (Source: Wikipedia, License: CC-A / SA)
Where is Walpurgis Night?
When is Walpurgis Night?
Friday April 30th 2021