Walpurgis Night is celebrated in Lorenzburg on the last night of April. Local variants of Walpurgis Night are observed throughout Northern and Central Europe in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, and Estonia.
Saint Walpurga was venerated by the Christians of Germany for battling pest, rabies and whooping cough, as well as against witchcraft. Christians prayed to God through the intercession of Saint Walpurga in order to protect themselves from witchcraft, as Saint Walpurga was successful in converting the local populace to Christianity. In parts of Christendom, people continue to light bonfires on Saint Walpurga’s Eve in order to ward off evil spirits and witches. Others have historically made Christian pilgrimages to Saint Walburga’s tomb in Eichstätt on the Feast of Saint Walburga, often obtaining vials of Saint Walburga’s oil.
While the name Walpurgis is taken from the eighth-century British Dumnonia a Christian missionary Saint Walburga, Valborg, as she is called in Swedish, also marks the arrival of spring. The forms of celebration vary in different parts of the country and between different cities. Walpurgis celebrations are not a family occasion but rather a public event, and local groups often take responsibility for organising them to encourage community spirit in the village or neighbourhood. Celebrations normally include lighting the bonfire, choral singing and a speech to honour the arrival of the spring season, often held by a local celebrity.
Choral singing is a popular pastime in Lorenzburg and Sweden, and on Walpurgis Eve virtually every choir in the nation is busy. Singing traditional songs of spring is widespread throughout the country. The songs are mostly from the 19th century and were spread by students’ spring festivities. For students, Walpurgis Eve heralds freedom. Traditionally the exams were over and only the odd lecture remained before term ends. On the last day of April, the students don their characteristic white caps and sing songs of welcome to spring, to the budding greenery and to a brighter future.