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Sweden’s Symphonie Fantastique

Sweden’s Symphonie Fantastique

Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath

So it turns out that the ‘Spring Fling’ post I wrote a few weeks ago was very, very premature. There wasn’t so much fling to the spring but rather more woe of the snow. I haven’t seen the sun in months and even the Swedes are beginning to complain. If I have to dress my daughter in 20 layers of clothes for much longer I am going to scream. So now it’s time to do something about it. We are going to take action!

It’s been a few weeks since our latest pagan ritual, so surely it’s time for another one. This long weekend, we are going to set Sweden alight in bonfires, burn away the evil winter spirits and welcome in Spring, the bastard. We will also bow down to the Patron Saint of the Public Holiday and revel in a four-day holiday. And considering I’ve been waiting for spring since before winter, I’m going to be the first one on top of the bonfire, lighting the fire with a song in my heart. Come on Spring, we are ready!

Walpurgis Night is a traditional spring festival that is celebrated on April 30 in Sweden (and most of Europe). It heralds the onset of spring and growth and harks back to ye olde olde times. It’s celebrated on the eve of the canonization of Saint Walpurgis, an 8th century Catholic saint from England which is why it makes perfect sense to commemorate her in Lutheran Sweden.

So on Monday night we will be lighting fires across all of Sweden to ward off evil spirits. Yes Walpurgis Night is also supposed to be a night of the witches sabbath, what is it Sweden, again with the witches?

Which brings me to one of my favourite pieces of music, Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Five movements of program music engagingly illustrating the live of an artist. Great brass sections, this baby has everything. The fifth movement – Dreams of a Witches Sabbath – is a lively mix of tempi.  Oh this symphony can keep you going through a long and Swedish winter.

Now on Monday night I don’t think anyone will be humming any Berlioz, but I do think there will be a whole lot of singing going on. Singing, dancing and lighting fires, it’s going to be a great night.

Here is a Swedish spring song that might be sung during the evening. In Swedish obviously it rhymes but in the translation it doesn’t. Luckily, I wrote my on rhyming version underneath:

Spring breezes weave and whisper,

All through the trees, now green,

As young lovers be.

Streams flow in a hurry,

No rest or worry

Until their foam meets the sea.

Cry out my heart.

Cry out and hear

The herdsman’s horn

Now echo, then pale.

River sprites playing,

Sorrows dismaying

They wake in hill and dale.

My version:

Spring breezes weave and whisper,

All through the trees now green,

We’ve waited and waited but had no luck

Oh Spring, where the fuck have you been?

Young lovers grew old, as the snow hung around

you took your time to arrive,

We cried out our hearts and took Vitamin D

My daughter learnt how to ‘high five’.

River sprites were playing maybe,

but it wasn’t the Rite of Spring,

It was a sorrowing dismay of scarves and hats

I thought we should move to Beijing.

By mid-April we were pale and all dismayed

A ticket to Sydney didn’t seem too drastic,

Thank God for Mr Lindt and his magic chocolate

and thank God for Symphony Fantastique.

[Photos courtesy of Ola Ericson + Lola Akinmade/ ]

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. oh, you guys are so lucky! have a fab time! 🙂


    April 28, 2012
  2. jenkakio #

    That’s so cool! Bon fires to ward off evil winter spirits, that’s something I would like to experience at least once. Did it work? I hope the sun comes out really soon! Hang in there.

    April 28, 2012
    • It’s on Monday night but I think it is getting warmer even now! YAY!

      April 29, 2012
  3. Think I like your version better….

    April 29, 2012
  4. Kim Talks Books #

    Isn’t Walpurgis Night also supposed to be when the witches are being naughty? Or is that just an old Hammar Horror movie with lots of nubile witches writhing in passion on Walpurgis night?

    April 29, 2012
    • Yep, I think both in Berlioz and in Sweden… I’m looking forward to it even more now…

      April 29, 2012
  5. westendbaby #

    It’s as cold as a witches nip here in Scotland too….It would be lovely if we had a similar tradition to ward off the winter and welcome the spring but we usually save ourselves the bother at this time of year, bypass spring and summer and go straight to Autumn again. Loved the lyrics.

    April 30, 2012
  6. Aweswome. I’m enjoying learning about Sweden’s wackiness here!

    April 30, 2012
  7. lisacng #

    I agree, wacky but fun! Man, the last time I was at a bonfire was for a high school pep rally! Hope the sun returns. I know, the dressing in layers sucks. Our weather keeps fluctuating between summer-like and fall-like. It’s really hard to dress a kid for weather that changes day to night. I just hope he doesn’t get sick. To your poetic talents!

    May 1, 2012

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