A blog from the University of Borås

Friday, April 27, 2012

Swedish Culture - Walpurgis Night on 30 April

The forms of celebrations on Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton or Valborg) in Sweden vary in different parts of the country and between different cities. One of the main traditions in Sweden is to light large bonfires, a custom that was most likely established in the middle of Sweden in provinces like Dalarna, Närke, Södermanland, Uppland, Värmland and Västmanland. The roots may be found in Uppland during the 18th century when farm animals were let out to graze and bonfires (majbrasor) were lit to scare away predators.

Several cities in Sweden, especially the old university cities, such as Uppsala and Lund, have special traditions for Valborg. Current students and alumni gather together from early morning to late night on 30 April. You should not be surprised to find thousands of students gathering in parks, having barbecue, enjoying the weather (?!) and drinking considerable amounts of alcoholic beverages. Singing traditional songs of spring is also widespread throughout the country.

Also Borås is celebrating Valborg in different ways. The Sven Eriksson high school in Borås is annually performing a cortège in the centre of Borås – a tradition that is dating back to the 1920’s and attracts many locals year after year. During one week before the cortège volunteer students at the technical high school are doing woodwork projects and building different kind of wagons related to happenings of the past year which are to be presented during the parade.


Another famous carnival parade in Gothenburg, called "The Cortège", has been held since 1909 by students of the Chalmers University of Technology. Around 250,000 people are visiting the parade each year. Yet another major event is the gathering of students in Trädgårdsföreningen to listen to student choirs, orchestras and speeches.

Walpurgis Night Celebrations Borås, Monday 30 April

5.30pm          Orchestra parade starting from Knalletorget towards the City Hall

6 pm              Male choir performance in front of the City Hall

6.45 pm         Cortège - starting from Sven Eriksson high school following Lilla Brogatan
                      (try to be close to the start for the best view)

7.30 pm         Fika at Immanuelskyrkan followed by bonfire (majbrasa) at the plateau of Annelundsparken


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