Spring Day is an Estonian public holiday falling on every 1 May. Spring Day has ancient roots and is a celebration of the coming of spring after the long, hard Estonian winter.
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Festivities begin on Spring Day Eve, which is called “Volbrioo” in Estonia and known as “Walpurgis Night” in Germany, where it has its original roots. Walpurgis Night is based on an ancient, pagan belief that witches would gather on May Day Eve on Mount Brocken in the wooded hill country of central Germany. The night is still observed in many countries of central and eastern Europe, including throughout all Estonia.
On 30 April many Spring Day celebrations commence in Estonia, continuing past midnight into the wee hours of May 1st. Some simply eat, drink, make merry, dance, and enjoy the warm, spring weather. The overall spirit of the Spring Day Eve celebrations is much like that of a carnival, with night-long feasting and huge bonfires thrown in.
Come Spring Day morning, traditions are starkly different. May poles, tall poles wrapped in greenery and decorated with ribbons are set up, as also in other nearby east European nations like Lithuania and Poland. Tradition says that the May pole has the power to make a couple fall in love.
Certain other Spring Day traditions have come to Estonia from other lands. Lilies, for example, are given out, but this began as a French tradition in the 17th Century. Doughnut cakes are eaten on Spring Day, but doughnut cakes originate from Finland.