Walpurgis Night, Volbriöö, celebrated in Tartu

Student organizations in Tartu gathered in procession and cleansed with champagne the statue of Karl Ernst von Baer, as is customary. For one night, the authority in the city was delegated to the students.

Walpurgis Night, or Volbriöö in Estonian, drew visitors from all around Estonia and beyond to Tartu.

The procession began on Vanemuine Hill and continued to Town Hall Square, where Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas handed over power to the students for one day. They then greeted the rector in front of the university's main building and the procession went to the Toomema Hill statue of physicist Karl Ernst von Baer.

Kaarel Vanamolder, a former member of the student society, said that Volbriöö tradition in Tartu is really unique. "People from Tartu, Latvia, Finland and Germany gather here," he said. "I believe that our Volbriöö could be designated on a UNESCO world heritage list."

Elo Kook of Sororitas Estoniae Korp! remarked, "This is the season when spring truly begins, when everything blooms and it is once again delightful to be alive and feel warmth! It is really important for students before sessions and exams start."

Despite the fact that Estonian folklore associates Volbriöö with witchcraft and various fire and nature rituals, Tartu students have celebrated this spring festival with their own, German-born traditions, since the 19th century. "This procession and the tradition are closely associated with Tartu's renaissance, i.e., since the university was reestablished in the 19th century," Vanamolder said.

Volbriöö is a celebration for Tartu student organizations. After the public procession, student organizations host their own private events that include performances, initiation ceremonies and/or alcohol tables. All participating organizations open their doors at midnight for students to meet other members.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Kristina Kersa

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