Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Walpurgisnacht

Walpurgisnacht, a.k.a. Witches' Night or Drudennacht (Druids' Night), is the survival of a pagan spring festival celebrated on April 30. On this night, it was believed witches flew through the air and assembled on the Brocken in Germany in order to celebrate the return of Spring. In folklore, the nocturnal dancing of the witches is actually said to melt the snow on the mountain.

Like Halloween, Walpurgisnacht was a night in which people believed witches, spirits, and all manner of supernatural beings roamed the land.

The night is celebrated almost all across Europe, under many names, and celebrations include the building of bonfires to drive away evil spirits, dressing up in costumes, the playing of practical jokes, feasting, drunkenness, and general fun and good times.

The name Walpurgisnacht stems from St. Walpurga, who has as her saint day May 1. Such use of a Christian saint for a pagan holiday reflects a trend of Christianizing pagan holidays in order to make them more acceptable.

Walpurgisnacht precedes the celebration of Beltane or May Day on May 1.


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