Sunday, April 30, 7:30 PM
Walpurgisnacht – Closing night party + screening
BUY TICKETS ($12)
* FREE FOR TICKET HOLDERS OF ANY PREVIOUS CFF 2018 PROGRAMS
We’re closing out the 2018 CFF on the “Night of the Witches” with a pagan celebration! Make your own wicker effigy (we’ll supply the materials) and burn it on the roof of PhilaMOCA following a talk on the history of this pagan holiday by our very own Samm Deighan! Then we’ll all head inside for an anniversary screening of the 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man.
Historically celebrated on the evening of April 30 by German, Scandinavian, and even Eastern European countries, Walpurgisnacht—or Hexennacht, literally “Night of the Witches”—is one of several pagan festivals to survive the Christianization of Europe and continue on in modern day. Renamed as the feast day of Saint Walpurga, a medieval abbess, the night is six months from Halloween and functions as something of an inverse to that spookiest of holidays. It was believed by medieval and especially early modern Europe that this was a night that witches gathered to celebrate their diabolical master. In Faust, Goethe wrote of their meeting on the highest peak of the Harz Mountains in Germany, known as the Brocken, where they would revel with Satan.
According to pagan custom, Walpurgisnacht was also a celebration of springtime and fertility, with the bonfires meant to drive out the darkness of winter and welcome the vernal season. As with Halloween, the veil between the mortal and spirit worlds is allegedly thin, making Walpurgisnacht an ideal night for spell casting and communicating with the spirits. The tradition of contemporary revelers to dance, sing, and cause carnivalesque mayhem—and to dress up as witches, devils, or in other supernaturally-themed costumes—began as a way to ward off evil spirits, but has continued on in northern Europe as pagan ancestral traditions become popular once again.