Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Important Date on the Swedish Calender

My friends in Sweden tell me that springtime weather has finally arrived in Stockholm, just in time for Valborgsafton.

When I visited a couple of weeks ago, winter was making a resurgence. It snowed on my first day in Stockholm. Arriving at Arlanda International Airport on April 9th, a winter wonderland surrounded me, with lots of snow every which way I looked. When I got to Central Stockholm, a light dusting of snow covered the rooftops. I shivered a bit as I watched the changing of the Royal Palace guard under a light snowfall that day. If only I could have stayed in Stockholm for a few more weeks!

April 30th holds a special place on the Swedish calender. On Valborg, Swedes celebrate the end of winter weather with many outdoor festivities planned across the country. Large bonfires light up the Swedish sky on Valborgsafton. Everyone gathers around the fire and sings traditional songs to welcome in the spring season. Some enjoy a picnic dinner. The ancient bonfire tradition is meant to scare away evil spirits, witches and demons.

In Stockholm alone, Valborg bonfire celebrations are planned at the open-air cultural museum of Skansen on Djurgården, in front of Långholmens folkhögskola, at Vasaparken and Bellevueparken in Vasastan (where I have family), at Rålambshovsparken on Kungsholmen, with a large crowd expected at the festivities on Riddarholmen (next to Gamla Stan/Old Town). Most of the bonfires will be lit around 8pm. Perhaps you can see them with the view from here: Stockholm Web Cams.

Trevlig Valborg!

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