Last of April is a special day in my town. Some people love it, some people hate it and everybody has got an opinion about it. It’s a day filled with joy and festivities, celebrating spring but it’s also a day with way too much alcohol and underage drinking and all the problems that follow. I have celebrated Last of April for probably 20 years or more, a little differently as I have grown older. In the rest of the country last of April is called Valborg, or Walpurgis Night, but in my town it’s known mostly as last of April by the natives. You can almost tell by what people here call April 30th if they’re born and raised here or if they’ve moved here later. I had probably never heard the word Valborg before highschool, when I had friends in my class who was from other parts of the country.
Over the years I’ve celebrated last of April differently. When I was a kid the bonfire was the best thing and my parents usually served shrimp for dinner for some reason. I have never been a big fan of peeling shrimp but they taste good. Then I got a little older and me and my friends went downtown to watch the raft race on the river. Then I got a little older still and we had picknick in the Botanical garden. When I became a student we went to the university library for the ritual donning of the caps at precisely 15:00 (when I lived in France I invited my friends to the park to have a picknick and at 3 pm I put on a hat, not being home should never stop you from celebrating last of April). I’ve done most of the other traditional things too (except the porridge breakfast, I do not and will never eat porridge) over the years, champagne gallup at the student societies, herring lunch, listening to the choir in the Assembly Hall and the another choir up at the castle in the evening and the big ball at the castle, including walking home slowly in the wee hours of the morning in high heels and ball gown, happy with feet tired from dancing. Last year I was so happy that I had finally moved out of my student apartment which meant I could actually be at home on April 30th without going insane. Before that, being at home was a bit like being in the middle of the hugest party and not participating, but last year I sat in my armchair knitting and listened to the silence. I’ve done it all, everything you could possibly want on last of April which means I’ve become a bit laid back when it comes to this day. I don’t mind going to work even though I know a lot of people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that (and I must say I get a bit annoyed when people ask me surprisingly why I’m at work on April 30th, it’s because it’s a work day and I don’t understand why it’s weird to go to work on a work day, it’s not like a lot of things is happening before 3 pm anyway and by then I’m off work).
What has stuck through they years though, is having a picknick in the Botanical garden and the donning of the caps. If I get to do that, I’m happy. Agnieszka and I have been doing that for about 14 years, not every year but almost. The big advantage now over when we were 16 (ok, I was 16, she wasn’t) is that we have our own homes and less prestige to try to live up to. This year we started our picknick outdoors but it was crazy windy so after an hours or so, we decided to go home and continue there. That wouldn’t have happened 14 years ago, partly because we both lived so much further away, and in opposite directions whereas it now only took us ten minutes to reach Agnieszka’s apartment. Now when we are in our 30’s we also know that we can stay out for as long as we want to and therefore have realized that a very windy day is not worth it sitting outside. 14 years ago we probably had a curfew and didn’t want to come home before that.
Now we also know that we probably have more food and such at home (and can drink hot tea from a mug instead of a thermos, the latter is supposedly more romantic but still quite unconvenient) so it just works better to continue a picknick at home. What can I say, I’m 30 and I like cutlery.
At home on a cozy couch is also a great place to knit and Thursday was the only day last week that I didn’t knit on my Great Lace. Instead I enjoyed some heavier yarn on some bigger needles and really, that was all I needed for last of April to be magnificent.