The bonfires of Walpurgis night

When I was a kid, I liked seeing the bonfires burning everywhere near and far in the chilly spring night.

On last year’s Walpurgis celebration, we had just moved to Scania where I grew up. We climbed a steep hill, Hobjeret next to Kåseberga and the famous Ales stones, were the traditional bonfire was burning. Standing in the scorching heat from the flames, we could see them: countless bonfires glowing in the dusk below, flickering lights far away in the vast, open landscape.

The cult of Walpurgis arose after the saint Walpurgis death in 779 and was mainly about protection against witches and evil spirits.

The Christians believed the witches rode brooms or goats to the old sacrificial places on the night between April 30 and May 1, where they drifted mischief in the company of none other than the devil.

To dispel them, they made noise by shouting, firing shots and blowing horns, and they lit bonfires on the heights.

This small sketch, “Walpurgis Night”, 30×40 cm, is painted in oil on canvas 2023 in memory of last year’s Walpurgis. In this scene, the choir that welcomes spring and most of the people has wandered back down the hill, but the fire still rages high.

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