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Sweden Rambles, Travel & Culture

Sweden Rambles: Walpurgis Night

After writing about two major holidays in Sweden – Midsummer and Christmas – it is time for me to discover another special day in this Nordic country. Or perhaps it’s better to say a special night since this kind of celebration usually starts while the sun is setting down.

I am talking about Walpurgis Night, which falls on the 30th of April. I actually heard of this event for the first time two years ago, when Matt sent me video clips of the celebrations he had attended, while he was still living in Sweden.

Incidentally, the King of Sweden celebrates his birthday on the same day, so it is a double event for the country, with official celebrations held outside the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

But back to Walpurgis Night: what is it exactly and how do the Swedes celebrate it?

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Travel & Culture, Travel Diaries

“Oh weep for Adonais!” – My Keatsian Pilgrimage in Rome

“Go thou to Rome,—at once the Paradise,
The grave, the city, and the wilderness;
And where its wrecks like shattered mountains rise,
And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress
The bones of Desolation’s nakedness,
Pass, till the Spirit of the spot shall lead
Thy footsteps to a slope of green access
Where, like an infant’s smile, over the dead
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats (link)

wikimedia_john keats

Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton the Younger [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

On the 15th of November 1820, the English poet John Keats entered Rome together with his friend, the artist Joseph Severn. They had already been on the Italian soil for a few weeks as their ship had been kept in quarantine for 10 days in Naples.

Keats’s journey to Italy was no trip of pleasure, inspiration or for a particular cause, such as other Romantic poets were compelled to take (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lord Byron). On the doctor’s advice and with the help of his friends, Keats travelled in search of a warmer climate that would ease his ailment – what would later turn out to be tuberculosis.

The two Englishmen settled down in number 26 in Piazza di Spagna, a villa adjacent to the Scalinata (Spanish Steps). Exhorted by Dr James Clark, the young poet would go out for a walk but was soon confined indoors as his condition worsened. The warmer climate eluded him as he had arrived too late in Italy, when it was already winter.

He passed away on the 23rd of February 1821, aged 25, three months after his arrival in Rome. He was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in the same city.

To honour John Keats on his death anniversary, I wanted to write about my ‘pilgrimage’ in Rome – done on the 2nd of January 2015 – where I have visited the Keats-Shelley House in Piazza di Spagna and the Protestant Cemetery.

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Malta Rambles, Sweden Rambles, Travel & Culture

Celebrating Christmas in Malta and Sweden (Part 3)

Here is the third and final part of my Christmas series of posts. Of course, the focus now is on the last and most important days of the period: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Make sure that you have read the previous two parts. Hope you’ve enjoyed the series!

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Malta Rambles, Sweden Rambles, Travel & Culture

Celebrating Christmas in Malta and Sweden (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of this short series of posts about Christmas customs in my native country (Malta) compared to my boyfriend’s country of origin (Sweden).

I’d like to thank all the people who commented and +1’d my previous post on Google+. Make sure you read it before jumping to today’s post.

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