Swedish Walpurgis Nacht, Stockholm, Sweden
I got so many questions about my last poem for the National Poetry Writers Month long challenge that I’m going to blog a bit about it.
Walpurgis Nacht is one of many permutations of the eve of the ancient Celtic holiday of Beltane or May Day. For those not, in the know, MaiFest is HUGE in Germanic countries! Other cultures and civilizations around the world all seem to have a holiday celebrating the “true end” of winter/spring and the turn into spring/summer frame of mind, though allowances must be made for the fact that non-Eurocentric cultures still use phases of the moon to signify their holiday “start date”, instead of a fixed calendar.
In the pre-Roman times Beltane Eve was time to do your spring cleaning clear down to the hearthstone. All fires went out that night and the hearths swept. No light until one lit from the Beltane bonfires was brought back to the home space. And yes, some places people finished cleaning out by sundown and then went into the fresh fields to sleep. Single women went into the orchards or forest and cut boughs of blossoms that were then brought by them to the house of a prospective grooms mother. Men gathered to erect the maypole. Did that get your attention?
Thought it might. Sorry to say, but for all its’ right things, the TV show “Vikings” is mostly inept when it comes to Viking/Celtic views about the position and importance of women. For a clue, look up the entomology of the word “husband” >”The term husband refers to Middle English huseband, from Old English hūsbōnda, from Old Norse hūsbōndi (hūs, “house” + bōndi, būandi, “meaning house bonded i.e. bound to a house. Oh, and the woman owned the house boys!
May Day was a time to party, play, eat and visit. Dancing the Maypole was the main event. If you’ve never tried, you should. They do still exist, usually at Renaissance Faires. Evening brought about the lighting of the Bel fire, usually in some form of sacred space. After dancing, jumping and playing about the bonfire, people would carry a bit of that fire home to rekindle their hearth fires and lights.
So, now you know why the first BBQ of summer is SO important in the US! 😉