I knew it was going to be a good evening when we spotted a UFO on the way into town.
It was hovering over an old folks home and these aliens probably like their Earthlings well seasoned. You won’t see anything in the news about this tomorrow because tonight was Valborgsmässoafton, a celebration that precedes Christianity in Sweden by hundreds of years. It honors an 8th Century German abbess, St. Walpurga but is really a pagan festival that celebrates the onset of Spring and the promise of summer days. The days are definitely getting longer too. It is light at 5:00 a.m. and stays light well past 9:00 p.m. It was about 65 F. today, so things are getting really, really, really nice around here.
The original purpose was to celebrate the growing season, ward off witches and burn all the dead and dried of winter and the signature event is a large bonfire. There were several celebrations around town but we went to the main one in the main park in town.
Usually, this park is the hang out for stoners and the death metal crowd. Tonight it was filled with everybody else.
Some people brought their fika, but most simply stood and watched the proceedings.
First, a band followed by some dignitary giving a speech about Spring and welcoming it in.
Meanwhile the crowd began growing.
After the speech there were a couple choirs, which were not half bad, singing songs about the star of the show, the weather, specifically, Spring.
In total, probably about 5,000 people turned out, out of a population of 55,000 for Halmstad proper.
Around quarter to nine, a canoe came down the river with torches and lit the fire in the middle of the river that bisects the town. Maybe Halmstad is a sister city with Cleveland, Ohio, which once had a river so polluted that it caught fire. I will have to check on that.
You can see the canoe on the far side of the fire.
In just a couple minutes it was going pretty good.
When it was really roaring a line of people in kayaks came down the river, each with torches in the bow and stern, which represents the parade of torches that sometimes accompany bonfires on land.
Here you can see some of the kayakers paddling back past the bonfire. They may need their torches tomorrow because it is May Day and every town in Sweden holds demonstrations pro-working people and other causes. It is a holiday here and in 80 other countries but tomorrow will have a special significance because of the other protests set to be staged in countries that don’t normally celebrate May 1st, like the U.S. More tomorrow.