• Kerstin Dunkin, Doug Rogers and Lisa Molvig.

    Kerstin Dunkin, Doug Rogers and Lisa Molvig.

  • Esther Stutz, Ambassador of Sweden Sven-Olof Peterssen, Martina Keskintepe and husband Ambassador of Turkey Reha Keskintepe and Anita Peterssen.

    Esther Stutz, Ambassador of Sweden Sven-Olof Peterssen, Martina Keskintepe and husband Ambassador of Turkey Reha Keskintepe and Anita Peterssen.

  • Becky Bergman and Jason Fleming

    Becky Bergman and Jason Fleming

  • Oriane and Nathanael Bodson

    Oriane and Nathanael Bodson

  • Caydie Carson, Cecilia Andesson and Billie Carson

    Caydie Carson, Cecilia Andesson and Billie Carson

  • Tim Wells and Anna Carlander

    Tim Wells and Anna Carlander

  • The choristers sing.....

    The choristers sing.....

  • The fire intensifies...

    The fire intensifies...

  • Asa Hasselgard-Rowe, Ambassador of Sweden Sven-Olof Peterssen and Paivi Parkka.

    Asa Hasselgard-Rowe, Ambassador of Sweden Sven-Olof Peterssen and Paivi Parkka.

  • Heinrich Stefanik and Geoff Winter

    Heinrich Stefanik and Geoff Winter

Walpurgis Night at the Embassy of Sweden

6 May 2014

A good pagan ritual with a no show by the witches of Yarralumla was a good start for the annual Walpurgis celebration at the Embassy of Sweden. The blazing fire, hot dogs and glogg on a Sunday night sure beats lounging about watching telly as this much loved event brings locals and Aussie Swedes together as the Ambassador and his wife host the gathering on a perfect roundabout of bitumen in the embassy grounds.

We of British heritage lament the passing of the old Empire Day bonfire night with all the neighbourhood fun of creating together the biggest fire you could build, and of course that bag of fireworks you’d spent all your pocket money on. But now no one seems to know the right day to light the fire and fireworks displays are a dime a dozen.

But memories rekindled and shared among this happy bunch of pyromaniacs enjoying the best fire for years at the Embassy were enlightened by a brief description of the good old girl, St. Walpurgis or St. Walburga, depending on which pagan storyteller you believe, and the reason for this pagan festival night as a prelude to springtime in the northern hemisphere.

Ambassador Sven-Olof Peterssen, who with his lovely Anita unfortunately for us returns soon to Sweden after his six years at the helm, tells of an 8th century English nun with a Saxon chief father and two brothers Winibald and Willibald (there’s two names unlikely to come back into favour) who went off on a pilgrimage for – wait for it – 27 years and Walpurgis was sent to a nunnery to wait and wait.

It’s indeed a fascinating story but to find a modern day twist, the Black Sabbath song Walpurgis has a grim line about 'eating dead rats' that reminded me of a Walpurgis night when a local four legged furry animal scampered out from the fire heading for the upper echelons of upper Yarralumla.

A pagan night that has changed and adapted to this century is now a pleasant night out and may just rid us of witches and rats.