Walpurgis Night is the eve of the feast day of Saint Walpurgis.
Walpurgis Night falls on April 30th and is a traditional holiday celebrated in northern Europe and Scandinavia.
Walpurgisnacht has similarities to the Celtic Beltane festival of the same date.
The celebration of Walpurgis Night has little to do with either Christianity, or Saint Walpurga. Instead, the origins of this festival may be found in the period before the arrival of Christianity in northern Europe.
Above: my latest Walpurgisnacht design available now. A limited edition print from the original ink and watercolour painting. Signed by the artist.
The festival falls during the period when Spring arrives (May Day), where pagans conducted rituals to welcome spring and ensure the fertility of the land. One of these rituals is to wash your face in the May dew to bring beauty and youthfulness. Will you be doing that that this year?
However, Walpurgis Night, rather than Beltane, is very much associated with witches.
In German folklore, it is said that witches from all over the land would gather for a great sabbath on top of the Brocken, the highest peak of the Harz mountain range.
“Witches bound for the Brocken are we,
The stubble is yellow, the new grain is green.
All our number will gather there,
And You-Know-Who will take the chair.
So we race on over hedges and ditches,
The he-goats stink and so do the witches.”
Taken from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's famous play Faust.
At Walpurgisnacht and also Beltane, rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special fires were kindled by local people to ward off malevolent forces and blessed sprigs of foliage were hung on doors, as well as leaving offerings of bread with butter and honey (known as ‘ankenschnitt’) for phantom hounds.
So watch out tonight, for there might be witches abroad!