On the last day in April, an old tradition of the bonfire brings together the communities throughout Sweden as well as other countries throughout Europe.
This tradition has been handed down for millennium but it was given it’s name “Valborg” after the English Christian missionary Saint Walburga from the 8th century. I have read that this precedes even this date but I can’t confirm that for certain. Different countries have different histories as to the origin but with the Vikings taking on Christianity as their religion, this is the history for Sweden.
Today, sadly, Swedish people have separated themselves from the faith. But the good news is that the traditional Christian holidays are still observed but less “traditional” with the younger generations.
Valborg is a great tradition because it brings the neighbors together. I live a bit remotely so I cannot report about how they celebrate in the bigger cities, but for villages and towns, they are a great reason to get outside, stay warm by the fire, get rid of a lot of tree branches and cut from the forests. Although I’m always a year behind with my contribution because there is still a lot of snow left in the forest and it’s not until the end of May that I usually begin cutting away the tight growth to free up and open up the forest. It’s time consuming work but highly enjoyable and a great excuse to be among the trees, moss and animals.
Traditionally, when the fire begins, the people will celebrate by singing songs and hymns. The kids tend to throw rocks into the fire (and for my location in the lake). A speech will be given about the beginning of spring and the appreciation for everyone who participated. Then some more songs. During this time, people will break out the beer and adult beverages, stand back and watch the roar of the fire.
Locally and unofficially, we have a contest with the village across the lake from us as to which fire is largest. We always win (whether that’s true or not is subjective and I’m a little biased so just take my word for it ;-D).
Just a funny side note: the weeks that followed including today, snow has fallen. I made the unthoughtful mistake of planting some lettuce sprouts outside on a warm day and they were covered in 2 inches of snow a couple of days later. I’m hoping they weren’t killed as I check on them once a day and they still have some green in them. Hopefully they were able to root enough to have given them a chance. The weather is warming but you can’t count on the jet stream to be stationary long enough to be certain for warm weather.
In the first photo, my youngest and her friend are posing in front of the fire. The second photo is my oldest watching the fire.