April


Time flies and April is coming to an end. The name of the month stems from the Latin word aprilis, meaning 'open up', and it is believed that this refers to the month when the earth is opening up and crops start to grow. In old Nordic the month was also referred to as "grödemånad" or "crop-month"

          The month is also associated with some old pagan beliefs and traditions. It starts out with April Fools' Day, when people are setting each other up for various practical jokes or pranks, and afterwards oneis supposed to say "Aprill, aprill du dumma sill, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill." Directly translated it's"Aprils Fool, you silly herring, I can trick you to go anywhere." However this tradition did not come to Sweden until the 17th century, and judging from the German tradition with the saying "April, April, der macht was er will!" (April, April it does what it wants) and the French version which goes "poisson d'avril" (April Fish), Swedes probably picked up influences from various places in Europe when coming up with the Swedish saying.

   The month ends with Valborgsmässoafton, when Swedes light bonfires to celebrate the arrival of spring and the return of light. In pagan times this was also associated with ritual sacrifices to Nordic Gods such as Freja, Jord, or Tor. With the arrival of Christianity (around 1000 CE) these traditions were labeled witchcraft, asserting that witches flew to meet the Devil himself. To prevent this from happening people lit fires and made a lot of noise, which is why fireworks and firecrackers are still common on this evening. Maybe today, not so much to distract the witches, but for the fun of it.