Swedish Walpurgis Eve – the origins
In the Middle Ages, the administrative year ended on 30 April. Accordingly, this was a day of festivity among the merchants and craftsmen of the town, with trick or treat, dancing and singing in preparation for the forthcoming celebration of spring.
Among farmers and peasants, it was an important day in the calendar as the annual village meeting was held, with eggs and schnapps as refreshments. The meeting also chose a new alderman. At Walpurgis (Valborg), farm animals were let out to graze, and ever since the early 1700s bonfires (majbrasor, kasar) have been lit to scare away predators. People also fired guns, shook cowbells or yelled and screamed to keep the predators at bay.In some parts of the country, young people went round singing May songs in return for gifts of food on Walpurgis Eve.Those who gave them nothing were treated to a ‘nasty’ ditty. Elsewhere, people visited spas to drink the health-giving water and to amuse themselves.