Walpurgis Night is a special event, which happens from April 30 to 1 May. In many countries of Western Europe this spring holiday coincides with a spring festival. It goes back to pre-Christian traditions in commemoration of the blooming spring.
Therefore, this is the traditional spring festival and the most significant of the pagan holidays, as a result dedicated to fertility.
The Celtic countries celebrate Beltein around the same time. In some Germanic lands on May 1 it was customary to dance around the May tree. Nowadays they are English, Czechs, Slovaks and Lithuanians territories.
There are special names for this holiday in different countries. They are: German Walpurgisnacht, finnish Vappu, french Nuit des Sorcières (Night of the witches), Czech Pálení čarodějnic (Witch fire), Russian Eremey the Harrier).
The name of the event, such as Walpurgis Night, comes from the name of a Christian saint, such as Walburga. She was a Wimbourn nun, who came from England to Germany in 748 with the aim of founding a monastery. Walburga died on February 25, 777 in Heidenheim. The nun with a generous soul was extremely popular, and consequently very soon she was honored as a saint. In the Roman list of saints, her day is on May 1.
Walpurgis Night April 30: signs and beliefs
All the German-speaking peoples believe that the rampant revelry of the evil forces happens on the night before May 1 . We accordingly mean modern Germans, Austrians, Scandinavian peoples.
In the highlands of Scotland, the Highland Gaelenders celebrated on May 1 the ancient Celtic cattle-breeding feast of Beltan, associated with the cult of the sun. Today, you can see the echoes of the ancient Celtic cult in the fires of huge bonfires on the tops of the hills and prayerful appeal to the sun.
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Meanwhile in plain Scotland, the holiday took common European traits: “May tree”, “May greens”, the choice of the “May Queen”. In the national calendar May 1 is a great national holiday of spring. The event has a very bright and fun celebration in all countries of Europe. The May Day celebration was so popular that the church could not put it into the framework of its calendar. Although priests tried to do it many times.
In the villages in Walpurgis’ night, a magic ceremony of exorcism of witches took place. Therefore people lit fires, burning straw dummy of a witch, and making rounds at home with torches, ringing church bells.
Every year, witches on broomsticks flock to the “great coven”
In the Middle Ages, Walpurgis Night was rather a night of the feast of witches in all of Germany and Scandinavia. Witches would ride astride broomsticks and fly to mountain peaks, where they spent time in wild feasts. They dance and mate with demons and the devil there.
According to popular beliefs, every year, almost all the witches on broomsticks flock to the “great Sabbath”, and the souls of the dead go out to see people. Thus witches flock to prevent the onset of spring, to send spoilage and spend the night in dances and fun. People consequently drive the witches out this night, making fires to burn their dummies.
Because of its mysticism, Walpurgis night is considered a suitable time for all sorts of rituals. Admirers of the holiday believe, that the herbs are gaining miraculous power at this very night. That is why they put herbs in front of the threshold in order not to let the evil spirits come into the house until they count all the blades of grass.
Walpurgis night is therefore a time for women to take care of themselves. Hence they make a cleansing or a mask, take spa procedures, perform rites for the acquisition of love. In addition, the wreath from the ivy torn into Valpurgis night surely makes the girl in the eyes of the beloved an indescribable beauty. People believed that drinking water from the well would make everyone healthy.