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Walpurgis Night,the other Halloween


sundog

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  • Location: Ashbourne,County Meath,about 6 miles northwest of dublin airport. 74m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Cold weather - frost or snow
  • Location: Ashbourne,County Meath,about 6 miles northwest of dublin airport. 74m ASL

Walpurgis Night is a traditional spring festival celebrated in parts of central and northern Europeon on the night of April 30th. It is celebrated with dancing and bonfires and is a rather like a spring version of Halloween.

It is a celebration of fire and the coming of spring. Like Halloween Walpurgis has its roots in ancient pagan customs,superstitions and festivals. It was belived like Halloween that ghosts,spirits and creatures of the night were free to roam the earth on this night.

The name Walpurgis originates from an English nun from Devon. She was born around 710 and her name was Walpurga. She went to Germany in 746 with two of her brothers one of whom founded a double monastery there. When he died in 751 she became the abbess. She was known for speaking out againest witchcraft and sorcery and was belived to have performed some miracles. Walpurga died around 779 and in 870 she was canonized with the date of her canonization being May 1st. Due to this she became associated with May Day. Since the time of her cannonization and the christianisation of many pagan festivals around Europe the night before her celebration day came to be known as "Walpurgis Night". Viking fertility celebrations took place around April 30th and due to Walpurga being declared a saint at that time of year, her name became associated with the celebrations.

In Scandinavia a tradition which goes back to the Viking times is observed by building large bonfires as it was thought that these fires would scare away evil spirits etc. At this time of year the Vikings held a ritual which was belived to hasten the arrival of spring and ensure fertility in their crops and animals.

In Germany according to folklore and ancient legends it was belived that witches would meet on the Brocken the highest peak in the Herz mts on the night of April 30th as it was thought to be the night of the witches sabbath. To defend themselves againest the witches the people would light bonfires and create loud noises like ringing bells and banging drums etc. Today in this part of Germany people dress up as witches and devils to celebrate the event.

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Edited by sundog
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