Valborgsmässoafton i Uppsala, 2022-04-30
We intended to leave Östhammar for Uppsala at around 8AM and head straight to the river to watch the rafting first before walking around. We were able to leave on time, however, when we had to turn back to fetch my UP “sablay” that I meant to wear at some point during the trip to match Mattias’ outfit.
The railings by the river were full of people waiting and cheering whenever a raft was in sight. We could not find a free spot and so we gave up and walked around towards the end of the race where the participants got off their rafts and were helped ashore.
Scroll down for move videos and photos we took during the day. I ran out of battery before the famous wave at the Carolinabacken, but luckily, Mattias still had enough on his phone which I used for the countdown and the most-awaited moment when the rector waved. I will post my niece Shauna’s fun bonfire souvenir shots on her own page on this site.
An estimated 80,000 people attended this year’s event including myself, Mattias and my mom-in-law Margareta. We ended the day with a buffet dinner at Pong in Gränby before we dropped off mom and headed back to Östhammar. Exhausted from walking all day, but it was all worth it. My first time to witness and take part of the Valborgsmässoafton, Forsränning and Mösspåtagning in Sweden. :))
Waiting for the Rector
Walpurgis Night is the year’s largest student festival in Uppsala with rafting, herring lunch, gasques – and much more. Valborg or “Sista april” (last of April) as it is also called, has been celebrated since time immemorial especially in the eastern parts of Sweden. Uppsala students over the past centuries like to celebrate the evening, and there are old bills preserved that indicate a rather intense partying with food and drink.
During the early 19th century, the students in Uppsala during the evening of April 30 began to go up to Slottsbacken to look at the flaming huts of the plain. Those who were able to sing took the opportunity; this was the birthplace of student singing. It is confirmed that in 1823 the song “Spring has come” was performed next to the castle. Eventually it also became customary to bring a living for the king and the motherland and perhaps give a speech in the spring.
At the end of the 19th century, the ceremony was fully developed, the entire student union marched up and it became the rule that the student union’s vice chairman would hold the spring speech . This often highly acclaimed speech has been broadcast on radio since 1926 (with one exception, 1951). Since 1971, the Curator Curatorum, chair of the student nations’ cooperation body, the Curator Convention , has been giving the speech. The Gunilla bell rings and Allmänna Sången still participates. Many have claimed that the Slottsback tribute, which always starts at exactly 9 pm, is one of the finest student ceremonies in Sweden.
The “Mösspåtagning” (that ceremony with the students’ hats) takes place below Carolina Rediviva. Exactly at 3 PM, the Rector raises his/her white hat and this is the signal for everyone to put on their student hats and run down Carolinabacken (backe means slope/hill). Countless times there has been talk of the “white-backed hill”. Balloons rise towards the sky and a general spring cheer erupts in the crowd. At the beginning of the 20th century, people contented themselves with putting on the white hat for the first time after the winter when they went out on the morning of April 30, but then it became customary to gather on Drottninggatan and not put it on until just when the clock struck 15. Over time, they moved further and further up towards the library. Sometime in the 50s, the then Rector Torgny Segerstedt got the idea to raise his hat as a starting point, and so that tradition was created.
A few years later, in 1975, Forsränningen was added , started by students in the current Uppsala Technological and Natural Sciences Corps. A variety of vessels, more or less imaginatively equipped, glide down the Fyrisån. In the same year, the now popular Champagne gallop was added , which was started by two students at Stockholm’s nation. Both of these elements are today as obvious as the spring speech and the Mösspåtagningen.
Note: The above is mainly a Google Translate version of the Swedish text from this post.