Valborg!

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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What I did
Valborg!

Flag of Sweden  , Swedish Lakeland,
Monday, April 30, 2012

Valborg, valborg, valborg.

For those of you who read my previous years blog entry about this sacred day on the calendar of every Uppsala student who has ever had a hangover, you know that this day is the day where Swedes save up their being good points and promptly throw them out the window for 24+ hours of mayhem and irresponsible drinking, (in designated areas carefully watched by the police of course.)

This is a carefully scripted day where some sort of alcohol, usually champagne is used to mark the day instead of the traditional wrist watch.

For starters you wake yourself up very early in the morning, usually after being awake late the evening before. You down some coffee while watching those who have scarped themselves out of bed faster than you out the window as they head into town with tell tale jingling bags form the System Bolaget. My favorite sight was two boys carrying a couch into town, which I later saw along the side of the river, more than a mile from where we live.

The day starts with people trying not to spill their plastic champagne glasses as the squish along the side of the river and watch crazy classmates make attempt to make it over the engorged river filled with the rains and snow melt off in boats carrying no more than four people and made of Styrofoam.

How the boats work is. If they come along the side they may get drinks or get small things thrown into their boats. If they take the easy way down the river they are encouraged to take the dangerous path. If they go over the middle treacherous part of the river they are cheered, if the boat flips over they are met with thunderous applause. If they do flip there are trained divers in the river to catch them before their head are back above water, so no worries there. If you are a spectator it is always way more interesting if the boats flip. I am hoping to be on a boat next year.

After two hours of boats you head up to the park behind my main campus where upwards of ten thousand students squish into the grassy field and traditionally leave as much garbage behind as they can. I was good and put my trash in a bag, but the thousands of others know that in the wee hours of the morning, before they have scraped themselves off the bathroom floor, that all of the garbage will be cleaned up by the paid employees of the city. This is not a sponsored event so no one foots the bill but the city, who builds this day into their budget.

Around three o'clock you abandon the field for one or both of two things. You can go to the main library of the university where at exactly three o’clock spring is declared by the vice chancellor of the university and everyone puts on their spring student hats, (their used to be winter ones, but those are no longer worn.) Traditionally you were supposed to run to the river down the hill and throw in your winter hat, but that would cause major injury with so many people, so you just mosey on down the hill now. Everyone pulls out their hats for the day, including those who have not been students for decades.

The second event taking part at the same time is the champagne gallop. This is where you pay an inflated price to buy an overpriced bottle of bad champagne that you promptly waste by dumping it on your friends. It is better to wear eye protection, because champagne really stings! These overly intoxicated themed events are hosted by the student nations and monitored by the police from the outside. A band was playing at the event that I attended with several of my classmates whose watered down rock and roll made the students jump up and down and fueled the momentum of the day even more and ensure that your shoes are coated in champagne mud.

After a few champagne soaked and sunburned hours you realize that if you want to make it to the events of the evening you best be getting yourself to the shower and nap segment of the day.

The nap is the most important part of the day; it recharges your battery and allows the lull before the final party.

The chaos then begins of where you are going to go and when you are going to meet. This is hard because everyone has plans with friends which change as the day goes on. I knew that I was going to go to the castle and see the evening choir performance. I met up with Susann who had not had a nap and had drunk quite a bit since I had last seen her at the champagne gallop. She did not remember much of the night after this.

The choir at sunset was very nice. I was convinced that there was going to be a bonfire, but not on top of the hill. I needed to go outside of the city for that. The bonfires were part of this night before the alcohol. They date back to the pagan side of this holiday.

The night frolics of the other students provided more entertainment than a hazy night of alcohol could provide, so I stayed pretty sober. I watched as the street urchins made their way along every back ally collecting the discarded cans to fund their next month’s grocery runs. I took a late night stroll through the garbage filled wasteland of the usually pristine park. I observed the police keeping a hawk eye on the revilers. We outnumbered them thousands to one, but by keeping a major presence at every event the statistics came out to something like six arrests from the day and twenty intoxicated people who were brought into the station to sleep it off before being sober enough to go home.

This day was not nearly as rushed as the last time because I know what I had already done and that I have one more year to try and finish the last few things off my list.
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