Walpurgis Night: the night of the witches

30/04/2018

"Burning of Witches", "Walpurgis Night" or "Beltaine" are the names used for the last night of April in the Czech Republic. 

The legend

This old pagan feast, which developed into a popular folk custom, is based on a legend wich says that on the magic Walpurgis Night 30 April / 1 May, evil powers are at their peak of strength, and people must protect themselves, their households and cattle. In ancient times, people believed that crowds of witches flying on broomsticks travelled to a witches' assembly on that night. As such people would light fires on the hills, throwing burning brooms up into the air in order to weaken the witches' powers and get rid of them.

Nowadays...

the burning of witches is celebrated throughout the country with thousands of fires are set on the last April evening in order to burn an effigy of a witch made of straw and old clothes, celebrating the oncoming spring and summer period When the fire is roaring people roast meat on sticks, dance, play music and sing. Hardly anybody would now connect the celebration with magic rituals.

An overview of events and activities on April 30 in Prague is extensive. The night of the witches in Žluté láně and Walpurgis night in Ladronka are two widely-attended gatherings. These events are free of charge and children and adults can enjoy dance and music performances, magic tricks, a face-painting, petting zoos or fireworks. Children and youth houses and some municipal districts organize witches´ gatherings for kids with fun competitions and engaging programs. 

For a list of events on Walpurgis night in Prague: https://www.praguest.com/en/what-s-on.html 


Alice