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The motif Maypole, May Day, Walpurgis Night in HCA : The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters (1859)
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The motif Maypole, May Day, Walpurgis Night in HCA : The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters (1859)

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Keywords:

Summer, feast, ritual

Description of this motif: Maypole, May Day, Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night is on the day before May Day, May 1st, on which people used to dance around the maypole. Saint Walburga was made a saint on May 1st.

The feast Walpurgis Night has its name after Saint Walburga (In Scandinavia known as Valborg; alternative forms are "Walpurgis", "Wealdburg" or "Valderburger"), born in Wessex in 710, a niece of Saint Boniface. According to a legend she was a daughter of the saxon prince St. Richard. Together with her brothers she travelled to Württemberg, Germany where she became a nun and lived in the convent of Heidenheim, which was founded by her brother Wunibald. Walburga died on 25 February 779 and that day still carries her name in the Catholic calendar. However she was not made a saint until 1 May in the same year, and that day carries her name in the Swedish calendar. In Germany, Walpurgisnacht, the night from April 30 to May 1, is the night when allegedly the witches hold a large celebration on the Blocksberg and await the arrival of Spring. (Source: The Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night May 3 2005).

Example :

"Then there was one May-day even," said the Wind, "when I came upon it from the west. I had seen ships wrecked on the coast of West Jutland, had hunted over the heath and the green-wooded shore to Fünen, and now I came over the Great Belt, blowing and roaring. I lay down for a rest on the coast of Zeeland, quite near Borreby Mansion, where the beautiful forest of oaks still grew. The young lads of the neighborhood came out to the forest to collect the biggest and driest branches and twigs they could find; they carried them into the town, laid them in piles, set fire to them, then the young men and girls sang as they danced around them.

"I lay still," said the Wind, "but then gently I just touched one of the branches that had been brought by the handsomest lad of them all, and immediately his pile of wood blazed up the highest. That meant he became the leader among them, with the privilege of choosing first one of the young girls to be his own May lamb. There was a joy, a merriment, such as I had never found in the rich Borreby Mansion.

(...)

So the carriage rattled past, and the peasants returned to their dance. Summer was being celebrated from one town to another, in Borreby, Tjaereby, and all the towns around.

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