Picnic with the Thousands

- in Column, In English, Krönikor

Valborg allowed me to zoom out from the world for one day and just experience the moment, writes Lundagård's Verena Mühlberger as she gives an international's view on the celebratory day.

8 am: My alarm goes off, and I instantly regret that I did not listen to my Swedish friends telling me not to party the night before Valborg. I definitely did not get my eight hours of sleep, and let’s say my choice of beverage did not support my freshness in the morning. 

So, of course, I push the snooze button, turn around and only commit to getting up thirty minutes later. I rush through the supermarket to get the two things we forgot to buy earlier (some bread and some orange juice to make the breakfast perfect) and then hurry to meet my friends.

9 am: I reach our designated meeting spot with almost no delay. It is good to have at least one Swede in our otherwise international group, and naturally, he explains all the quirks of Swedish culture we experienced during the day that followed. This includes everything from why Valborg was so special to the screams around the park to communicate. 

Heading to Stadsparken, the crowd becomes bigger and louder, creating a weirdly pleasing background noise. Walking through the park while looking for a good spot to sit down gives me a feeling of déjà-vu. It is like getting lost in the campground of a big music festival. I think this is what makes the experience so appealing; like at a festival, Valborg allows one to just zoom out for a whole day and be on a special holiday.

10 am: I am getting texts from some friends asking me, “Where are you?” and despite bad reception and sitting in a sea of humans, they somehow manage to find me. I think this is connected to the good park infrastructure, which is there, as our Swedish tour guide says, because the city already has enough chaos on Valborg, so they rather make sure the park is safe. But I believe this is connected to the Swedish awareness to prepare things properly (at least as far as I experienced it in my time here).

We sit there for hours, having some beer, some food, and some chatting. It feels like having a nice picnic in the park, but surprisingly (or on this day rather not surprisingly, of course), a whole lot of other people decided to do the same thing on the same day.

2 pm: Slowly getting hungry and slowly getting a sunburn, the logical consequence is to leave the park for a nice lunch. And as the whole town is out, it is barely possible to get 200 meters without running into someone we know, so it takes quite some time to reach a restaurant. Smalltalk here, a “hello” there, and some hugs with closer friends, and yet in the bottom of our bellies the feeling of starvation increases more and more, so our encounters becomes shorter and shorter.

After Lunch and after all the chatting, I treat myself to a little nap. On the next day, I learn that I was not the only person who chose to do so, and it seems that we all agree that that was a good idea in retrospect.

6 pm: I am invited to a BBQ, and I choose to go there instead of to the bonfire. While I am sure that it would have been a spectacle, I also learned by now that it is not always easy to pass through a Swedish crowd. My Swedish friend rolls his eyes when I say this and responds that if I were less in a hurry all the time and more relaxed, passing a Swedish crowd would not be a problem. So let’s see, maybe I will try that next time, at least if I am not in a hurry. In any case, I am sure that something more private for the evening will be a lot of fun as well, and after all, we are making our own fire.

While waiting for my sausages to get ready, I talk to some former students from Lund University who are visiting the town for Valborg. I think this describes the fantastic thing that accommodates such big celebrations: People are drawn back in, and so the communication across generations is possible.

While walking home, I hear the sound of parties all over Lund, and it feels like the celebrations would just never end on this day.