ABC in KMC: Walpurgisnacht — Witches’ Night

Graphic by Julia Zova/

The night of April 30 to May 1 is known as “Walpurgisnacht,” so beware the “witches” are out there.

It is not considered an official holiday but is still a noteworthy event for reasons that will become clear in a second.

In German folklore Walpurgis-nacht is heavily linked to witchcraft and the supernatural. It is said that witches chose this day to dance on the peaks of hills and plague the populace by causing mischief.

Kids love the evening which is often simply called “Hexennacht” (witches’ night). You can think of it as a mix between Halloween and April Fools. A big part of the “holiday” is playing pranks on unsuspecting people. Usually this is limited to minor nuisances like spraying shaving cream on door handles and wrapping lamp posts in toilet paper.

On occasion some people might overdo it with the pranks. Just to be on the safe side, do not leave items out in your front yard as people might carry them off. If you own a garage, park your car inside to avoid cleaning up shaving cream in the morning or decorative toilet paper on the antenna or mirrors.

Sometimes kids will drape toilet paper across a street and demand a toll. Of course, you are not required to pay it, but just a few cents will spare you the pleading and the puppy eyes.

German Labor Day — “Tag der Arbeit” May 1

“Tag der Arbeit,” usually simply referred to as “Maifeiertag” (May holiday), has its origins in the labor union movements of the late 1880’s. Just like American Labor Day, the day is now used to celebrate the achievements of workers past and present.

The first day of May is also used to celebrate spring. Traditionally communities will erect large, heavily decorated poles called “Maibaum” (May tree) and light public bonfires. The festivities are often accompanied with songs and dancing. You might read a sign “Tanz in den Mai,” inviting you to a dance event. In some communities, young men (and women) will guard the Maibaum, have a jolly time doing so or will try to steal the tree in the neighboring village.

As with all federal holidays, stores and public offices will be closed on Labor Day, which is on a Wednesday this year.