Month: April 2022

Valborg in Uppsala – By: Mansi

After a long,dark winter the people of Uppsala will welcome the much awaited spring on the 30th April by celebrating Valborg. What makes this year’s Valborg stand out is that it is being celebrated after being canceled for the past two years! Which means more enthusiasm from the students to finally be able to experience the spring festival.

If this is your first Valborg in Uppsala, here is a summary of the main events happening in Uppsala during Valborg-



If you witnessed the extremely long queues near the student nations the past weeks in Uppsala, the students were queuing up for tickets for none other than Valborg! The student nations usually host the majority of events for the festival from champagne breakfasts to pubs in the evening.

But even if you could not get the tickets for the nations, you can still enjoy Valborg! Keep reading to know more…

The Raft Race

What started as a friendly bet in 1975 has now become a tradition in Uppsala to highlight Valborg.On the morning of the 30/4 the much awaited raft race will be hosted by UTN at the Fyris river and you as an onlooker can enjoy it too.

Champagne breakfast and herring lunch

You along with your friends can celebrate Valborg the traditional way by enjoying a nice champagne breakfast and/or a herring lunch outdoors while taking in the warmth of the sun.The crowd usually gathers at Ekonomikum park so be sure to arrive early and reserve a spot. You could also head to the Uppsala Concert House to enjoy a nice herring lunch.

Donning of the caps

Another tradition to welcome spring is when the vice chancellor of Uppsala University waves her hat from the balcony of Carolina Rediviva and the students gathered around wave their student hats back.Sounds like something you would enjoy? Then be there on the 30/4 at the Carolina Hill at 15:00 sharp to celebrate the festival with the enthusiastic crowd!

Spring song

A tradition that dates back to the 19th century is a mesmerizing song performance by the orchestra, Orphei Drängar at the steps of Carolina Rediviva(sometime after the donning of the caps) to welcome the arrival of spring.


Credits: Aline Lessner/

A large bonfire or majbrasa is lit at the Royal mounds of Gamla Uppsala on the night of Valborg (around 9 pm) as a way to ward off predators threatening pasturing animals and welcoming the arrival of spring by gathering around the fire and singing into the night.

It can be overwhelming to keep track of all the events happening during Valborg, so here is a link that contains most of the information you need on the day of Valborg:

Hope you enjoy celebrating Valborg in Uppsala!


Valborg in Visby – By: Patricia

Something wonderful about the Swedes is that they don’t burn their bridges. Valborg, a tradition historically associated with warding off evil spirits through the act of lighting massive bonfires and singing with intentions to scare off witches, transformed with the times to keep up with the pace of a less religious country that’s now too occupied to make time for witch hunts. I am, of course, just kidding to lighten the mood through my history lesson, Sweden is a very welcoming country even for witches today. A functional adoption of lighting bonfires through the course of our sheep-island, Gotland’s, history became the use of bonfires as means to protect livestock – Valborg traditionally became the day when farm animals were let out of the barns for the first time, and farmers would gather their sheep around the fire to scare away predators, all the while praying for a fruitful harvest season. Nowadays, Valborg is celebrated for yet another reason.

This time last year, I was a burnt-out Zoomling sitting in my Visby apartment with no hope on the horizon to experience a true Valborg gathering which everyone else has fired my imagination with, but now, I am burning with curiosity to see what this tradition is all about. The modernised function of this tradition is to welcome spring, to manifest the change in seasons, which is much needed after the lengthy winter we have been stuck with here on Gotland. If by dancing around bonfires I can let the intrusive April snow clouds know they have outstayed their welcome, buckle up beause I have energy to burn!

Fiery jokes aside, allow me to spark your curiosity about Valborg celebrations on Gotland. Rather than a closed, family celebration, Valborg is a public event, often organised in neighborhoods by the local community, and there are numerous celebration spots to be all fired up and ready to welcome attendees on the evening of April 30th. HelaGotland’s calendar lists several bonfire gatherings to take place across Gotland, where the general celebration events include music, song-singing, spring-welcoming, Swedish fika and hot dogs, choir performances, as well as well-planned times for the lighting of the bonfires. These true-to-tradition celebrations have a cozy atmosphere as the small communities gather and spend time by the fire from dusk till the cold grips of the evening. The afternoon sun is bound to keep everybody warm, but after sunset, gatherers seek warmth around the orange flames of the scorching fire.

If you don’t feel fired up by the idea of spending time outdoors after sunset, here’s a hot tip: our student union Rindi has other events to offer between April 28th to May 1st to cater to your liking. From Hästarnas dal to Strandgärdet and Almedalen, their gatherings take place both during the day and in the late afternoon to evenings, and you can join them for all sorts of games, sports activities ranging from football to baseball, a quiz walk, a big picnic in Almedalen park, as well as an ovve ceremony! This will be a fantastic opportunity to unite as students and spend some quality days together. Don’t forget to wear your ovve!

I hope I managed to spark your interest in spending Valborg on Gotland and get aquainted with this beloved Swedish tradition. Personally, I will spend the rest of my working week burning the midnight oil to wrap everything up and have the free time to enjoy the planned events. Thank you for reading my article that I filled with as many fire-expressions as I could for your enjoyment – Have a safe and pleasant Valborg celebration!


A cup of tea and Inclusion – By: Tanzila Khan

Its 4 am and world outside this window is as white as snow. Pun Intended. I sit down with my tea and with every sip I recall a story that I would like to share with you all.  A couple of years ago I was part of a leadership exchange from Pakistan to USA. I was so excited to learn from it, meet so many young people from around the world and participate in activities. But above all I was excited to use accessible bathrooms, ramps and lifts to my heart´s content. I reached USA and quickly made friends with all the participants. Then one day the organizers arranged a trip to another event and a bus was booked for us. I was super excited to see a bus that had a lift in place and I could easily get in a special designated seat which was at the back of the bus. Once the bus started, everyone was settled and I realised there were a couple of seats between me and the other participants who mostly occupied the front rows. Just in a few moments into the journey, the music started and then there was dance followed by singing. Though I was in the bus and with them but yet not ´with them´. I saw from a distance all the fun and waited for them to move back a little so I can also participate. When that seemed impossible, I could not make my voice reach them and none of them looked back, I sat there just fidgeting with my phone and looking outside the window, a tear escaped my eye.

Once we reached our destination, we got off. Everything was normal. But my mind kept trying to reflect over the situation. I asked for an accessible bus and my wish was granted then why did I feel not included? That’s when I realised the infrastructure did not fail me, the community did.

Fast forward today, I am in Uppsala pursuing a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship aiming to find sustainable solutions for people with disabilities. I am also aiming for a student life experience that I could not have back in Pakistan because the infrastructure did not support it. But I wanted that to change forever. As I enjoy some parts of accessibility, I wrote to all the student Nations to ask about their understanding of accessibility and inclusion. Seven out of thirteen Nations replied me explaining why their buildings are not fully accessible. I wrote back cheerfully proposing a workshop or a meeting under the theme of ´Inclusive Lens´ to build a community that would support people with disabilities regardless of the infrastructure. Sadly none of the curators got back to me after the proposal and now I sit here sipping my Pakistani milk tea wondering how insignificant infrastructure is as compared to the power of people is. If only we as people could build our foundations on empathy through our actions and not let policies, systems and conventions take control.

As my tea reaches the bottom of my mug so does my article with a challenge or a proposal for you all to build an inclusive lens through your leadership and actions and  also call me if you want to have fantastic tea and hear stories of inclusion.