Yesterday was a very exciting day to be in Uppsala: Valborg! Also known as sista April (the last day of April), Valborg celebrates the coming of spring. Every Swede I’ve met told me I was lucky to be in town for Valborg, so I was eager to experience it for myself! Although Valborg is on April 30th, the festivities take place for a few days before and even the day after. I had a much quieter Valborg weekend than most Uppsala students, but I did meet up with my friend on Sunday to enjoy the nice spring weather in the park. I wanted to make sure my weekend was restful because I knew I would have to wake up early on Valborg itself. I was out the door before 8 AM, practically a miracle by my standards!
Typical Valborg fare includes champagne and strawberries, and I honored this with a strawberry-topped custard and some sparkling wine as I started my day. It is totally normal to drink throughout the day on Valborg and most Uppsalians even participate in champagne breakfasts! I then scouted out a spot near the Fyris River for the day’s first order of business: the raft festival. Every year, the engineering students design elaborate rafts and ride them down the river that cuts through town. Watching the rafts was a lot of fun! I got to see them up close with my friend the day before.
After watching the rafts for a couple hours, I decided to track down some lunch. This was not easy because of how many people were participating in Valborg! The whole town took on a sort of carnival atmosphere that was fun to observe as I wandered around. After lunch, I sat in the shade of a tree by the library and listened to a pep band performance before the mösspåtagning, or Donning of the Caps. Swedish students get a student cap upon graduating secondary school. They look like white sailor hats and have different insignia based on where the student attended school. At the Donning of the Caps, thousands of Swedes waved their student caps in the air. It was a very impressive sight, but what impressed me the most was how long people hold onto their student caps. I noticed several older Swedes with well-worn caps participating in this tradition. Afterwards, I stuck around to hear the men’s choir perform a couple of songs.
Although I had a lot of fun at Valborg, I did not participate in all the festivities. If you want to learn more about the holiday, feel free to consult these links. I am so glad I got to experience this unique Swedish tradition!