Sunday, May 27, 2012

Valborg 2012

Spring is already in full bloom here in Sweden and this blog is a little belated. At the start of spring, “sista April” (last day of April), Sweden celebrates the end of winter and that is when Valborg happens. We wrote earlier on our experience of Valborg here in Uppsala (link). We skipped a year of Valborg celebrations (last year - it was very windy and we played Civilization V the whole day), but this year we decided to do a complete Valborg again. Valborg stems from an old tradition where bonfires were lit at the start of spring before the animals were first let out to graze in order to chase away predators. In university towns such as Uppsala and Lund, other traditions were added over time. In Uppsala the days’ events starts along the Fyris river (Fyrisån) that runs through the centre of Uppsala. You have to get up early to get a good place on the river banks close to the weirs. The first event is a duck race where thousands of rubber ducks races down the river, the winning duck get a prize (actually the sponsor of the duck and not the actual duck). The proceeds generated from buying a duck goes to welfare. After the duck race the student rafts attempts to cross two weirs in the river. Student groups form Uppsala University spend a few weeks in advance building rafts which are both interesting enough to get cheers from the spectators but also sturdy enough to make it down two quite fast flowing weirs. Since we now live close to the centre of town, we were early enough to get a prime position on the river bank at the second weir. Below is a video of some of the rafts making (or not making) it down the second weir.

The rest of the day for most of the students consists of consuming as much alcohol as pissible (this was a Freudian typo slip, which I decided to keep after some careful consideration and reflection). There are other nicer traditions though, like the “mösspåtagning” and choir singing (see our earlier blog). This year, however, we decided to escape a bit from the hustle and bustle and went for a picnic in the forests surrounding the city. So we took our bikes and necessary food rations and fled out to the forests - below is some pics from our forest braai.

After the barbeque we took a nap on the picnic blanket and then returned to Uppsala for the big Valborg bonfires. Uppsala has bonfires (majbrasor) at several locations. We however feel that the fire at Gamla Uppsala amongst the burial mounds of old Viking kings, is especially enchanting. Below is a video of the majbrasor at Gamla Uppsala.

We love Sweden in the springtime…


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