Hej! So, it saddens me to say that as I will be leaving Sweden soon, this will be my last blog post from Uppsala. That said, to not bring the mood down too much, my subject for today is Uppsala’s biggest yearly party, Valborg (also known as Sista April, or ‘last of April’), the anticipation of which literally puts a smile on everyone’s face and a spring in their step. It descends from the celebration of Walpurgis on the 30th April, which to this day remains a day of festivities all across Sweden, with large bonfires being organised up and down the country, reminding everyone of their Viking heritage. It celebrates the arrival of Spring in Sweden, and is accompanied by general merriment and frolicking amongst the student population of Uppsala.
The day kicks off as early as 8am (although depending on how hard you’ve partied on Kvalborg, or ‘Valborg Eve’, possibly later), with a traditional champagne breakfast in Ekonomikumparken, a large park next to one of the university buildings (Ekonomikum) and a large student housing area. 10am sees the start of the boat race or Forsränning down the Fyris river, done by groups of students in handmade styrofoam rafts; some of which survive the rapids, some of which, well, let’s just say I’ve never seen someone cling to a giant styrofoam mushroom to save them from falling into the water so desperately before. Following tradition, this would be followed by a sillunch (herring lunch) – although, my experience was more, back to Ekonomikumparken for hot dogs and Swedish cider, and trying very hard to get through to friends who I knew were in the park, but when just about the entire population of Uppsala was also there, trying to find them was easier said than done.
The next big events happen almost simultaneously: the champagnegalopp held at some of the nations, and the mösspåtagning at the Carolina Rediviva library. The mösspåtagning is the traditional donning of the white naval caps all Swedish students have, and happens at precisely 15:00. 15:15 sees the start of the champagnegalopp – the name originates from when after the mösspåtagning, students would race down the hill from the library to the nations to drink champagne. Nowadays, the champagnegalopp more takes the form of spraying copious amounts of fizzy wine over your friends and strangers – great fun, by all accounts, but very messy! Thus ends the ‘traditional’ organised parts of Valborg; what follows next was, in my case, a nap, a barbeque, and then dancing at my nation with my best friend until the wee small hours of the morning.
Valborg was the first time since the winter that I had really seen Uppsala come alive, and the buzz in the air that it brings definitely gives it the feeling that Spring really has arrived. It has made me realise how much I need to appreciate the rest of my time here, because I know I will miss it so much when I leave; it has definitely been the most incredible experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed following my posts, and that some of my enthusiasm for Sweden and Swedish might have passed on to you. And with that – lycka till, och hej då!