Monday, May 1, 2017

Walpurgisnacht: The Other Halloween

The Collinsport Historical Society loves our witches. Whether they're using a bastardized forms of black magic that have more to do with voodoo than witchcraft (Angelique, I'm looking at you) or casting "binding spells" on the Pussy Grabber in Chief, we like to stay on the good sides of these people, be they real or imaginary.

Currently taking place is this year's Walpurgisnacht, which kicked into gear last night and wraps later this evening. It's probably not a coincidence that Walpurgisnacht (or Walpurgis Night,  Hexennacht or "Witches Night") also marks the halfway mark on the calendar to Halloween. Like Halloween, Walpurgis traces its history to ancient pagan customs, and is a night reserved for witches and their cohorts to stir up trouble before Spring returns and spoils everybody's fun. Witches congregated on  the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, prompting the locals to burn bonfires, douse themselves in holy water and decorate their homes in the Hammer Horror Chic. These traditions have been around for centuries in one form or another, though the first written reference to Walpurgisnacht didn't make its appearance until the 19th century.

Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" also begins in earnest on May 1. Jonathan Harker's first journal entry is dated May 3, but begins by chronicling his arrival in Vienna two days earlier. Tod Browning's 1931 feature film (possibly a revision from the Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston stage play) toys with the timeline a bit, showing Renfield arriving in Transylvania on Walpurgis Night.

In the spirit of that, below are a few links to some of our MONSTER SERIAL features from recent years, spotlighting movies that feature witches, vampires or other pagan shenanigans. Click on the images to travel directly to those posts.

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