Sunday, May 4, 2008
To welcome in May, I went to Heidelberg with some friends to celebrate Walpurgisnacht (the night April 30 to May 1). This is a traditional pagan holiday celebrated in variations all over Europe.
In Germany it's also called Hexennacht, or witches' night, and traditionally the witches would gather on a mountaintop and celebrate the arrival of spring. The picture on the left is an illustration to Goethe's Faust, which also includes a Walpurgisnacht scene.
In Heidelberg THOUSANDS (thanks for the correction, Simon!) of students gather on top of their mountain where there is is large amphitheater. There was a huge bonfire, torches, people doing tricks with fire and juggling, and just a lot of partying going on...very fun. And it's all just spontaneous. There is no official festival or anything, it's just a tradition carried on by the students.
We got there around 6:00 pm, walked around the old city for a while and then hiked up the mountain around 9:00 pm. It was dark by the time we got up top, and all you could see were people everywhere. Lots of students brought small, disposable grills and grilled for dinner. We stayed there all night, and took the next trains back to Saarbrücken at 6:30 a.m.