April 30 Walpurgis Night

Across Northern Europe, celebrations of the old pagan holiday of
May Day start the night before. Revelers light bonfires atop hills
to drive away the last vestiges of winter, a custom still observed
by the English royal family, according to Edain McCoy in The
Sabbats
(Llewellyn, 1994). It’s the perfect excuse for young
people to stay out all night, frolicking in the newly warm spring
air. At Oxford University, choristers greet the arrival of May in a
6 a.m. concert from the tower of Magdelan College. Young lovers
then traditionally top off the long evening with a boat ride and
champagne breakfast on the riverbank. At Uppsala University in
Sweden, the celebration begins at 3 p.m. with flurries of winter
caps tossed into the Fyris River, followed by a night of singing
and dancing that culminates in a sunrise procession through town
with everyone singing, ‘Sköna maj, Välkommen.’ (Beautiful
May, Welcome.’)

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