April 30 is Valborgsmässoafton in Sweden.

Swedes celebrate the tradition by lightening large bonfires, singing songs about spring, watching fireworks and partying it up a bit. As with many Swedish traditions, we celebrate them punctually and tirelessly, but do we know why we celebrate them? Read more to learn why Swedes celebrate Valborg.

Swedish people generally really enjoy Valborg. It’s a time to spend with family and friends, eat good food, get warm and cozy next to a bonfire, and perhaps most importantly, welcome spring.

The Valborg tradition is originally from Germany and was introduced in Sweden during the middle ages. Saint Walpurga, directly translated to “Heliga Valborg”, was an abbess at a monastery and lived during the 700s. Saint Walpurga was declared a saint on May 1 during the 1400s and was after that celebrated by the Germans on the first of May, originally calling the holiday “Walpurgisnacht”. This is where the inspiration for the name Valborg came from.

Heliga Valborg
Sankta Walpurgis. Photo credit: Johnny Chicago/Wikimedia

Why do we light a bonfire and fireworks?

There is more than one theory about this. The most famous one says that May 1 was known to be circulated by witches. Therefore,people made big bonfires in order to scare the witches and satanic creatures away. Another theory claims that when people were  forbidden to ring the church bells, they started to light bonfires in order to gather people together.

Photo credit: skansen.se

Nowadays, in Sweden, we celebrate Valborg to welcome the start of spring. The day also happens to fall on the same day as our king Carl XVI Gustaf’s birthday, which is a celebration in itself.

“Glad Valborg”, Happy Birthday to our king and welcome spring!





Johanna Skytt

Johanna Skytt

Editor at Swedes in the States
Johanna Skytt is originally from Linköping, she moved to Los Angeles 2016 to study Business & Management of Entertainment and Producing.

She travels as often as she can and has previously lived on the Greek island Cyprus. When she has a free day she loves to explore LA, go to farmers market and watch movies.
Johanna Skytt


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