Walpurgis Night  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Walpurgis Night is a holiday celebrated on April 30 or May 1, in large parts of Central and Northern Europe.



In Germany, Walpurgisnacht (or Hexennacht, meaning Witches' Night), the night from April 30 to May 1, is the night when allegedly the witches hold a large celebration on the Blocksberg and await the arrival of Spring.

Walpurgis Night (in German folklore) the night of April 30 (May Day's eve), when witches meet on the Brocken mountain and hold revels with their gods..."
Brocken is the highest of the Harz Mountains of north central Germany. It is noted for the phenomenon of the Brocken spectre and for witches' revels which reputedly took place there on Walpurgis night.
The Brocken Spectre is a magnified shadow of an observer, typically surrounded by rainbow-like bands, thrown onto a bank of cloud in high mountain areas when the sun is low. The phenomenon was first reported on the Brocken.
—Taken from Oxford Phrase & Fable.

A scene in Goethe's Faust Part One is called "Walpurgisnacht", and one in Faust Part Two is called "Classical Walpurgisnacht".

In some parts of northern coastal regions of Germany, the custom of lighting huge Beltane fires is still kept alive, to celebrate the coming of May, while most parts of Germany have a derived Christianized custom around Easter called "Easter fires".

In rural parts of southern Germany it is part of popular youth culture to play pranks on Walpurgisnacht, e.g. tampering with neighbors' gardens, hiding possessions, or spraying graffiti on private property. These pranks occasionally result in serious damage to property or bodily injury.

Curiously Adolf Hitler, with several members of his staff (including Joseph Goebbels), committed suicide on Walpurgisnacht, April 30/May 1, 1945. In the History Channel's documentary, Hitler and the Occult, author Dusty Sklar stated that "It's believed by some people that he chose April 30th deliberately because it coincided with Walpurgis Night, which is believed to be the most important date (along with Halloween) in Satanism . So according to one commentator he was giving himself up to the powers of darkness."

References in modern culture



Theatre and Ballet

Short stories

  • The Bram Stoker short story Dracula's Guest takes place on Walpurgisnacht: "Walpurgis Night was when, according to the belief of millions of people, the devil was abroad – when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked. When all evil things of earth and air and water held revel."
  • In the H. P. Lovecraft story The Dreams In the Witch House Walpurgis Night is referred to as "the Witches' Sabbath", when Hell's blackest evil roamed the earth and all the slaves of Satan gathered for nameless rites and deeds.
  • The English novelist and journalist Angela Carter makes reference to Walpurgisnacht in a short story entitled The Werewolf from the compilation of short stories The Bloody Chamber.


Other Literature

  • The last major work of the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus was an anti-Nazi polemic titled Die dritte Walpurgisnacht ("The Third Walpurgis Night").
  • Ogden Nash in his poem "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" referred to "this Walpurgis Night" for strange happenings in the hotel


  • Songs whose titles include or make reference to Walpurgis Night include:
    • "Angel Rebellion", By the German Power Metal band EDGUY (taken from Kingdom Of Madness)
    • "Walpurga's Night", by the Italian Vampire/Black Metal band Theatres Des Vampires
    • "Repent Walpurgis", by the English progressive rock band Procol Harum.
    • "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath was originally titled "Walpurgis" (and while the music was the same, the lyrics were entirely different).
    • "Wall Purges Night", an obvious pun on Walpurgisnacht, by the expatriate English musical group the Legendary Pink Dots.
    • "Walpurgisnacht", by Schandmaul.
    • "Walpurgis Night", by Running Wild (band).
    • "Walpurgis Night",an album by Stormwitch.
    • "Walpurgis Night Music", Matt Cameron's publishing name while in Soundgarden
    • "Under The Spell"' by Mercyful Fate (about a man who by accident witnesses the walpurgis night rituals and is caught by them and placed under a spell)
    • The album They Were Wrong, So We Drowned by the rock group Liars (band), is a concept album based on the legends of Walpurgis Night
    • "Born in A Burial Gown" by Cradle of Filth. The video also suggests a Walpurgis celebration.
    • "Night on Brocken", by Fates Warning from the album of the same name, sings about a black mass held on Walpurgis Night. On the next day, the singer recognises the priest at his church as the one holding the black mass the previous night.
    • "Walpurgis" is a rare 1969 prog psych record by the Swiss group Shiver. The cover features early art by H.R.Giger.
    • A German group named "Walpurgis" released a Krautrock album called "Queen of Sheba" in 1972.
  • Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn composed a dramatic choral oratorio, Die Erste Walpurgisnacht, in 1831, based on the Goethe poem.

Film and television

  • The closing sequence of Fantasia (1940) is intended to portray Walpurgisnacht and not Halloween, as is popularly supposed.
  • In the 1931 film Dracula, a Romanian peasant describes the night on which the film begins as Walpurgis Night.
  • In the 1986 fantasy/horror movie Troll, a witch named Eunice St Claire (June Lockhart) describes to Harry Potter Jr. (Noah Hathaway), that Walpurgis Night is a witches' sabbath, where the "denizens of the unknown cavort (party hearty)".
  • The Campus Loop, a nationally syndicated TV show from the University of Texas at Austin's student television channel, KVR-TV, had a set of episodes entitled "The Maltese Pumpkin" that were set on Walpurgis Night.
  • The television show Lexx had an episode called "Walpurgis Night" that originally aired on 24 August 2001.
  • La Noche de Walpurgis (translated as Walpurgis Night) is a 1971 Spanish horror movie, the fourth in a series about the werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky.

Other references

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Walpurgis Night" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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