Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night
(esp. in medieval German folklore) the evening preceding the feast day of St. Walpurgis, when witches congregated, esp. on the Brocken. German, Walpurgisnacht /vahl poordd"gis nahkht'/.

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Night before May 1.

The name comes from the 8th-century St. Walburga (or Walpurgis), an English missionary who ran an important early convent in Germany, May 1 being one of her feast days. In Sweden it is celebrated with bonfires as the beginning of spring. In Germany, as Walpurgisnacht, it was the night witches were supposed to meet in the Harz Mountains (see Brocken), though the association of witches with St. Walburga is only coincidental. See also Beltane.

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      a traditional holiday celebrated on April 30 in northern Europe and Scandinavia. In Sweden, typical holiday activities include the singing of traditional spring folk songs and the lighting of bonfires. Celebrations in Finland include a carnival and the drinking of alcoholic beverages, particularly sima, a type of mead. In Germany, the holiday is celebrated by dressing in costumes, playing pranks on people, and creating loud noises meant to keep evil at bay. Many people also hang blessed sprigs of foliage from houses and barns to ward off evil spirits, or they leave pieces of bread spread with butter and honey, called ankenschnitt, as offerings for phantom hounds.

      The origins of the holiday date back to pagan celebrations of fertility rights and the coming of spring. After the Norse were Christianized, the pagan celebration became combined with the legend of St. Walburga (Walburga, Saint), an English-born nun who lived at Heidenheim monastery in Germany and later became the abbess there. Walburga was believed to have cured the illnesses of many local residents. After her death she was canonized as a saint on May 1. Although it is likely that the date of her canonization is purely coincidental to the date of the pagan celebrations of spring, people were able to celebrate both events under church law without fear of reprisal.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Walpurgis night — 1822, from Ger. Walpurgisnacht, witches revel, especially on Brocken, on May day eve, lit. the night of (St.) Walpurgis, from Walburga, English abbess who migrated to Heidenheim, Germany, and died there c.780; May 1 being the day of the removal… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Walpurgis Night — [väl poor′gis näkht΄] n. [after St. Walpurgis, Eng missionary in Germany (8th c.): her day is April 30] April 30, the eve of May Day, when witches supposedly gathered on Brocken mountain for a demonic orgy: also also [Ger] Walpurgisnacht [väl… …   English World dictionary

  • Walpurgis Night — This article is about the Spring folk festival. For George Balanchine s 1975 ballet, see Walpurgisnacht Ballet. For the album by Stormwitch, see Walpurgis Night (album). For the anime related witch, see Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Walpurgis Night… …   Wikipedia

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  • Walpurgis Night — noun Etymology: part translation of German Walpurgisnacht, from Walpurgis Saint Walburga died A.D. 779 English saint whose feast day falls on May Day + German Nacht night Date: 1823 1. the eve of May Day on which witches are held to ride to an… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Walpurgis Night — Wal•pur′gis Night′ [[t]vɑlˈpʊər gɪs[/t]] n. myt (in German folklore and literature) the evening preceding the 1st of May, when a witches Sabbath was held on the Brocken German, Wal•pur•gis•nacht [[t]vɑlˈpʊr gɪsˌnɑxt[/t]] Etymology: after St.… …   From formal English to slang

  • Walpurgis Night — n. the eve of 1 May when witches are alleged to meet on the Brocken mountain in Germany and hold revels with the Devil. Etymology: G Walpurgisnacht f. Walpurgis genit. of Walpurga Engl. woman saint (8th c.) + Nacht NIGHT …   Useful english dictionary

  • Walpurgis Night — /valˈpɜgəs naɪt/ (say vahl perguhs nuyt) noun the evening preceding the first of May, the feast day of St Walpurgis (an English missionary and abbess in Germany, who died about AD 780), on which, according to German popular superstition, witches… …  

  • Walpurgis night — noun Walpurgisnacht ( Walpurgas night ), a feast of witchcraft in German folklore; any orgiastic or bacchanalian party …   Wiktionary

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