...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, April 30, 2007

We didn't start the fire!

April 30 is Valborgsmässoafton

The coming of spring -- which actually begins when day-long temperatures stay above 0 degrees, whenever that is -- is celebrated "officially" on the last of April, which Swedes call Valborgsmässoafton (evening of Valborg's mass). All the "ugly remains" of winter -- dry branches and logs and stuff -- are collected in certain places approved by the police and fire departments and then set into fire, in a cross between a spring cleaning tradition and a religious festival. This is the Valborgsmässoeld (eld = fire) which I went to at Folkparken:

It was a cold evening, and understandably, many wanted to get near the fire's warmth and stick out their hands. Some children also challenge each other to get near the flames, until the moisture in their clothes turn to steam, and they hurry back into the crowd again. The fire-and-smoke patterns were really nice to look at -- almost hypnotic -- and I thought it was cozy just watch it slowly eating the logs into red embers, rise up into a dancing flame, and watch its arms disappear into smoke. A flame this size is awe-inspiring. Cavemen must have loved looking at fire this way, and they must also have been scared of it because they didn't have a fire department to put out a fire this huge.

So who's Valborg of Valborg's mass? She was apparently an English princess who lived around the middle ages, who was called to Germany by the archbishop of Mainz to help German Christians. After her death, a witch-hunting group was created in her memory -- which probably explains the development of the Valborg's mass fire, originally intended to drive away the evil spirits from springtime, similar to the Chinese belief regarding fireworks. Away, evil spirits! Spring, welcome!


We took a late lunch after working on the boat today, out at Herstaberg boatyard. The lunch spot was a carefully chosen picnic table under the sun, which was just vacated by the previous lunchers. It looked like a promising spot and was right behind a wooden shed that could sheild us from the cold wind. There I was enjoying pasta with beef-and-bellpepper sauce, when right into the middle of our well-deserved meal, a septic tank collecting truck came along to empty the nearby toilet....

Oh, shit.

My tip to friends who drive around in Sweden: never ever bump into a truck that says "Alltransport". They do transport everything!


Blogger Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

6:55 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Thanks for that, and thanks for dropping by! Will hop to your blog soon. Ciao for now and happy blogging ! :-)

6:56 PM

Anonymous ria said...

we went to a mini valborgsbrassan yesterday (one of the heaps that luckily escaped some of the pyrocrazed "ungdomar"

11:04 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

yeah, I didn't mention that some teenagers threw all sorts of stuff into the fire, like used one-time grills, fireworks (which I thought was dangerous!), and trash! Tsk tsk tsk... There weren't many of them though, because they got bad looks from all the others. :-D Heheh. Nahiya naman.

6:54 AM


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