When witches and devils dance, then Walpurgis Night is in the Harz.
Walpurgis Night – to the witch party in the Harz
On Walpurgis Night in the Harz Mountains witches and devils are on their way. Most of the year the Harz inhabitants leave witch brooms, devil horns, horse feet and witch noses at home. But when the Harz Night of Nights begins on 30 April, they show their eerie, demon-like sides. Hexed or disguised, they move to their Blocksberg at dawn at the latest to celebrate the Witches’ Sabbath. Since ancient times the meeting places (mostly hills or mountains) have been called Blocksberg by witches, not only in the Harz Mountains. But there are a lot of them that are close to each other. In more than 20 places of the low mountain range Walpurgisnacht is celebrated extensively.
No celebration is like the other. The center of the witch’s cauldron lies in the Oberharz. Especially the witch parties of Braunlage, Bad Grund, Sankt Andreasberg, Schierke and Thale attract guests from near and far. Many don’t come as spectators, but join in the party. With their magic hats, pitchforks and cloaks, horrible devil grimaces, warts and hooked noses in the witch’s face, visitors are hardly distinguishable from locals. Obviously witches and devils did their mischief in the Harz for centuries. This is evidenced by local terms such as Hexentanzplatz, devil’s pulpit, devil’s wall, witch ride, devil’s hole and more.
About the History of Walpurgis Night in the Harz Mountains
Today’s Walpurgis celebrations go back to old customs and superstitions that existed before the concept of witches even existed. Even a poem from the 13th century tells of the Brockengipfel as a meeting place for ghosts. After Goethe Faust and Mephisto had the witches walk to the Brocken summit to dance with them, Walpurgis Night in the Harz became known nationwide. The Brocken became a synonym for Blocksberg. From 1896 organized Walpurgis night celebrations took place on the Brocken plateau with celebrations in the Brockenhotel and move to the Teufelskanzel. For all those who did not want to fly to the summit with a broom, special trains of the Brockenbahn ran from 1901. Although Owner of the Brocken Prince Stolberg-Wernigerode 1905 banned such celebrations from celebrating, they continued only two years later. From myths and poetry, Walpurgis Night has developed into a huge, colourful folk festival in the Harz mountains. The celebration will feature gnarled old and crunchy young witches, devilish figures in many variations and all sorts of fabulous magical creatures.