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Walpurgisnacht

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Samhain isn't the only night when the supernatural rules. There's a penetrating chill in the wind. The bright moon rises behind the shivering, nearly naked trees. A profound sense of foreboding permeates the darkness. This is the night, after all, when witches ride their broomsticks through the sky, and the natural world is forced to confront the powers of the supernatural.

No, it isn't October 31 and this is not Halloween. It's Walpurgis Night.


Walpurgis Night, an abbreviation of Saint Walpurgis Night and also known as Saint Walpurga's Eve , is the eve of the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Francia.

Like Samhain, Walpurgis has its roots in ancient pagan customs, superstitions and festivals. At this time of year, the Vikings participated in a ritual that they hoped would hasten the arrival of Spring weather and ensure fertility for their crops and livestock. They would light huge bonfires in hopes of scaring away evil spirits.

Saint Walpurga was hailed by the Christians of Germany for battling "pest, rabies and whooping cough, as well as against witchcraft. In Germanic folklore, Hexennacht , literally "Witches' Night", was believed to be the night of a witches' meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe. Christians prayed to God through the intercession of Saint Walpurga in order to protect themselves from witchcraft.

By some German traditions, sorcerers and witches meet on Hexennacht on May Day eve. Apparently for this reason, the Christian church established the Feast of Saint Walpurga on the same night in order to counteract witchcraft, given that the intercession of Saint Walpurga was efficacious against evil magic. Maybe it was inevitable that, like Halloween, the two traditions would blend and morph into something very different in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

As Halloween continues to grow as a national holiday and Krampus makes inroads on the December holiday, can Walpurgisnacht be far behind? It seems like a great opportunity for haunts with permanent buildings to fire up the scares. With such a rich history to draw inspiration from, this seems like a goldmine of haunty goodness!

Walpurgis Night 2019 in Germany will begin in the evening of Tuesday, April 30, and ends in the evening of Wednesday, May 1.

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