Man putting log on bonfire

Valborg

Valborg (short for Valborgsmässoafton) has been celebrated in Sweden since the Middle Ages. When the last day of April arrives, it’s time to say goodbye to Winter darkness and welcome the light of Spring.

Green ceramic candle holder

In the Middle Ages, Valborg marked the day when farm animals were released back outside to graze. People also scared away witches and evil spirits using bonfires and noise — they fired guns, banged pots, shouted and screamed etc. Food, snaps and singing were an added bonus.

Today, people gather around a community bonfire at sunset, drink and sing. Pandemic restrictions have prevented Valborg celebrations taking place since 2020, and despite living in Sweden for over two years, this was our first experience of it. We ventured to a village where our friends have a Summer house, instead of celebrating in the city.

Bowl of crisps
Cheez Cruncherz

The plan was to unwrap the outdoor table and have a drink but it was too cold so we sat indoors instead. This bowl is filled with wonderous golden goodness called Cheez Cruncherz (they’re filthily cheesy) — or sophisticated cheese snacks as they’ve been nicknamed by our friends.

White asparagus on plate
Vit sparris med öringskaviar och gräddfil / white asparagus with trout eggs and sour cream
BBQ food on plate
BBQ plate

After the BBQ, we walked to the village centre to see the bonfire. You may look at these photos and think “Gemma, you said it was Spring. Why does everything look so dead?”. Compared to a few weeks ago, brown grass on ground free from snow and ice feels like great progress!

People standing next to bonfire
Valborg majbrasan / Valborg bonfire

The wood piles in the background were slowly transferred onto the main bonfire. We moved quite a bit of wood, although the pile didn’t seem to get any smaller.

People putting wood on fire

Song lyrics on paper

Swedes love to sing; every occasion has a song or two and Valborg is no exception. We usually just listen to others sing because we don’t know the words but there were printouts of the lyrics this time. Between not knowing the melody and being too slow to keep up, I’m almost certain the noise coming from our mouthes scared away some of the evil spirits.

People singing

Large bonfire

Man putting log on bonfire
Viking man

Woman with log in her hand

Man stood in front of bonfire

Scott recreating the Disaster Girl meme. We drank a few glasses of wine before coming here and I think it shows in these last two photos.

Smokey bonfire

We headed back to the Summer house when the village fire waned, to sit in front of another fire and eat cheese.

Old fireplace

This flame filled day was an excellent way to welcome Spring. I’ve appreciated Spring so much more since moving to Sweden because Winter is longer and darker compared to the UK. But we’re starting to see the beginnings of leaves growing on trees in central Stockholm so it won’t be long before everything really wakes up. Glad Valborg allihop!

2 comments on “Valborg

  1. Lovely photos 🥰

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