Of course there has to be a Swedish tradition about scaring off witches, and that is Walpurgis, or Valborg. The meaning has changed throughout the years to signifying and celebrating the coming of spring, yet many of the traditions stay the same. While it is a big deal in Stockholm, many people travel an hour north to Uppsala, where 150,000 people will be to celebrate. That is exactly what we did!

Saturday, April 30th started with a 9:37am train ride to Uppsala. Upon getting off the train, we followed the large crowd straight to the boat parade on the Fyris River. Many engineering students compete by building a boat and sailing it along the river with different obstacles, such as a little waterfall. The boats were creatively themed, with some people dressing up as animals, vikings, and even a covid test! After watching for a while, we picked up some food from the food trucks. We wandered past Uppsala’s big church on our way to Economikumparken, where many students gather in the grass. The city had set up water stations with over 80,000 water bottles to give to people if they wanted. We met up with more DIS students along the way, and relaxed in the grass for a bit. Afterwards, we went to Uppsala Library and watched the Donning of the Caps ceremony. When the seniors graduate high school, they get to wear their sailor hat that stays with them the rest of their lives. The Chancellor started off the ceremony while a choir sang. We then made our way past Uppsala Castle and continued to walk around for a few more hours.

Eventually, we headed back to Stockholm at night, just in time for the bonfire at Skansen (the outdoor museum/zoo). There was lots of music and a massive bonfire with a pretty view over Stockholm’s archipelagos! Even better, entrance was free for all students that day. After a long day, we headed back home.

All of the ceremonies felt very ‘Swedish’ to me; it fit exactly what I was expecting. It was great to see so many people unified over common experiences, and they were very welcoming to others coming to join the celebrations. Valborg was one of my highlights of this semester!

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