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Useful Notes / Walpurgisnacht

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Walpurgisnacht by Johann Heinrich Ramberg.

"Walpurgisnacht" is from German, translating literally as "Oh fuck me, run!" Walpurgis Night is a gathering of witches that occurs six months after Halloween, so a witch named after a gathering of witches sounds like pretty bad news. It'd be kinda like playing basketball against a guy named Mr. NBA.

Walpurgisnacht, or Walpurgis Night or Hexennacht, was originally the German festival of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess responsible for converting a lot of pagans to Christianity. Despite the origin of the name, it has become a festival more associated with Paganism and, more specifically, Satanism. Most of the Pagan religions that celebrate Walpurgisnacht either have origins in Europe (e.g. Norse or Irish) or are eclectic religions (e.g. Wicca).

The Norse holiday that takes place on 30 April is called "Walpurgisnacht" or "May Eve." It's a summer-celebrating festival in Scandinavia. In every Germanic country, May Eve is seen as a time when witches are particularly active, but — being a celebration of summer as well — it is sometimes also seen as equivalent to Valentine's Day, where young couples celebrate their love. Many modern Heathens consider Freya to hold dominion over this festival, as she is a goddess of both witchcraft and love.

The LeVayan branch of Satanism adopted Walpurgisnacht as one of their major holidays along with Halloween. It officially begins on April 30 and can stretch to May 1, which is also known as Beltane. Wiccans and Satanists celebrate both Walpurgisnacht and Beltane, but not all Pagans do.

Note that April 30 is "Walpurgisnacht," "Walpurgis Night," or "May Eve," whereas May 1 is "Beltane," "Floralia", "May Day," or "Labor Day / International Workers' Day." They are separate celebrations a la Christmas and Christmas Eve and are not necessarily honoring or marking the same thing.

In media, when Walpurgisnacht is mentioned, it's usually being set up as the focus for some big occult event to happen at that time, regardless if it has any connection to the actual traditions of the holiday. People and things named after Walpurgisnacht often have demonic or witch-related associations. This drops it firmly into the category of Names to Run Away from Really Fast.

In many cases, this is the vernal counterpart of All Hallows' Eve. The trope for significant supernatural events taking place during Walpurgisnacht or Beltane is Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Walpurgisnacht is the Big Bad, city-destroying Nigh-Invulnerable witch that the climax of the series revolves around. It has been suggested in supplementary material that Walpurgis is a fusion of several other witches, hence its name (which is all anyone calls it, no one knows its real name.)
  • The anime of Betrayal Knows My Name features Walpurgisnacht as a night when various demons and evil beings would be extra drawn to the protagonist, Yuki, causing his protector, Zess, to become extra, well, protective.
  • The Hentai with plot Bible Black occurs days before, and during Walpurgisnacht, even being referenced in the first series (Bible Black: La Noche de Walpurgis). Also the prequel (Gaiden/Origins) and the sequel (Shin Bible Black: La Lanza de Longinus) occurs 12 years before and after the first series, and also is during Walpurgisnacht.
  • While it is likely not her name origin, Umineko: When They Cry's Lambdadelta references Walpurgisnacht. She is a witch, and her name written as greek numerals translates to thirty-four..which just so happens to be the date of the Walpurgisnacht.

    Comic Books 
  • Hellboy was conceived when his mother, the witch Sarah Hughes, cavorted with the demon Prince Azzael on Walpurgisnacht.
  • The Legends of the Dark Knight arc "Batman: Gothic" has as its climax the Big Bad attempting to release a plague across Gotham on the stroke of midnight between Walpurgisnacht and May Day. That's his deadline for his own soul, payment for his Deal with the Devil, and he's trying to substitute it with everyone in Gotham instead. Also he was Bruce Wayne's middle school teacher and killed a bunch of kids twenty years ago, and said Faustian pact was made in the 18th century during the Black Death for eternal youth and vitality. It's complicated.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The opening of the 1931 version of Dracula has a group of people riding in a coach. One passenger asks the driver to slow down because the poor roads are making the ride uncomfortable, and another passenger objects, noting that it is Walpurgis Night that evening and insisting it would be unsafe for them to be on the road after dark.
  • Walpurgis Night is a 1935 Swedish film that involves a married corporate boss and his Sexy Secretary going out for a date on Walpurgis Night and falling in love. Celebrants are seen setting a bonfire, while the secretary's father reminisces about taking his late wife out for Walpurgis Night when they were young.

  • In Illuminatus!, there is "the ninth trip, or Yesod (Walpurgisnacht rock)". Things... happen. A lot of them.
  • The Bram Stoker short story, Dracula's Guest (which some believe to be re-edited cut material from the first chapter of the Dracula novel) takes place on Walpurgisnacht; the Englishman who serves as the viewpoint character is visiting Munich, ignores warnings to not stay out late and runs into all sorts of unholy trouble.
    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.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Death Eaters were originally known as the Knights of Walpurgis, though the information comes only through Word of God in an interview.
    • Per Word of God, the climactic Battle of Hogwarts occurs on Walpurgisnacht, with the final blow coinciding with the dawn of May 1 (May Day). Thus, the "witching hour", i.e. the time of dark magic, is symbolically and literally brought to an end.note 
  • Dennis Wheatley played this one to death in his occult horror novels, especially The Devil Rides Out. The film adaptation is set around Walpurgis Eve. Wheatley's use of Walpurgisnacht as a festival of evil sacred to the Devil (in a novel written in the 1930's) may count as the Ur-Example.
  • Duisterlingen (literally "Darklings"), a Dutch series of childrens horror stories that resolve around 3 children that have special gifts due to being born on Walpurgisnacht, but since all three were born exactly at midnight it remains unclear weather they will use their powers for good or evil.
  • The Rick Cook novel, Mall Purchase Night is a pun off of "Walpurgis Night", although the plot itself does reference the night (Cook said that the original title was A Mall and the Night Visitors.)
  • The climax of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dreams in the Witch House" involves a witch performing a ritual human sacrifice on Walpurgis Night.
  • The Little Witch involves the little Witch wanting to join Walpurgis Night despite her young age.
  • In Gorky Park, Renko talks to a Finnish border guard officer, who tells him at one point that he has a long drive ahead of him in order to get home in time for the upcoming holiday. Renko assumes the Finn is talking about May Day, but the Finnish officer corrects Renko, telling Renko the holiday in question is Walpurgis Night, or as he also calls it, "Witches Sabbath". (As mentioned in the Real Life section, this is not actually how the holiday is viewed in Finland.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lexx had a very weird episode called "Walpurgis Night" which featured the occult... among other things.

  • Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky, later arranged by Rimski-Korsakov, is perhaps the Ur-Example in music. The musical piece is set during Walpurgis Night when a witches' sabbath is held on top of the mountain, summoned by Satan himself.
  • "War Pigs" from Black Sabbath's Paranoid (Album) was originally going to be called "Walpurgis Night" and it still shows in the lyrics, where mention of "witches in black masses" is made. The studio executives didn't like the title though, because of its satanic and occult connotations and opted for a title change.
  • GFRIEND's last album is named 回:Walpurgis Night. The girl group references the festival a couple of times in their lore as they become witches. Some examples are their song "Apple" and "Time for the Moon Night" being released on April 30.
  • The dramatic cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht, by Felix Mendelssohn based on a text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, takes an Enlightenment-era rationalist approach, in which a plucky (and sympathetic) community of German pagans simply impersonates demons in order to scare off their Christian oppressors, so that they can worship in peace.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Shadowrun Germany sourcebook, one of the fictional advertisements is for the annual dance on the Blocksberg (real name "Brocken"), a mountain site in Germany closely related to the Walpurgisnacht. In-universe, the event is a primary venue for awakened witches and neo-pagans.

  • Faust: The penultimate scene of the first part of the play is titled Walpurgisnacht and takes place during said festival, where Mephistopheles arranges to have Faust seduced by witches so he is distracted from the impending doom of his love, Gretchen. In the second part (published much later) an early scene called Classical Walpurgisnacht portrays a gathering of gods and monsters of ancient Greek myth.
  • The middle second act of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is called "Walpurgisnacht". This is the section where George and Martha begin to play cruel games with the guests; it's an allusion to the witches' sabbat, but not spoken aloud onstage.


    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: Nine the Phantom, a powerful witch, was born on April 30, i.e the Walpurgisnacht. Her theme song is also named "Walpurgisnacht" as well.
  • The game Shadow of Destiny went through several titles in development, such as The Day and Night of Walpurgisnacht and Days of Walpurgis. The game takes place within a German town and revolves around the ambiguously evil Homunculus created by an alchemist in the 1500s. In the 1500s, witchcraft gets thrown around as an accusation toward the alchemist and the time traveling main characters.
  • In The Witch and the Hundred Knight, a major part of the story of involves getting Metallia to the Nighttime Soiree, a gathering of Witches that happens at Walpurgis Night.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • In Sweden, Valborgsmässoafton is a completely innocent holiday with bonfires, fireworks and choirs singing now traditional songs.
    • In Finland, vappuaatto is a carnivalesque holiday primarily associated with students, when people who have passed the baccalaureate examination (the general qualification exam for entering higher education) wear white caps and drink a lot, with paper streamers and non-alcoholic mead for the kids. (Witches are associated with Easter, when children go around doing a form of trick-or-treating by exchanging willow switches for sweets.)
  • Nowadays the Brocken and the nearest towns to it are the scene of massive festivities on Walpurgisnacht, attracting a mix of serious neo-pagans, local youths out to party, and tourists.
  • In The Czech Republic there's a folk tradition associated with April 30 called čarodějnice ("the witches") or pálení čarodějnic ("burning of the witches") where straw effigies of stereotypical witches are burned on huge bonfires, preferably on hilltops.