The Harz Mountain area of Germany looks like something out of a fairy-tale, but for one night of the year on 30th April or Walpurgisnacht, tradition claims that the highest mountain in the area, the Brocken, becomes an eldritch nightmare as evil witches from all over the country travel to worship the devil.
True, the Brocken is very mysterious looking in the mists that cover it this time of year and the natural phenomena of the shadowy The Brocken Spectre could seem very spooky, but if you visit the Brocken on the 30th April today, you are more likely to find folk in fancy dress and Pagans enjoying the festivities than ‘owld Nick himself.
Dressing up as witches and celebrate
In Northern Germany, many people dress up as witches and celebrate on the mountain. The first officially organised celebration of Walpurgis Night was held in 1896, but only male guests were allowed to attend. In southern Germany this is a time to play pranks, but Rhinelanders get romantic and boys decorate birch branches with ribbons and secretly put them up outside their girlfriends' houses. Walpurgisnacht is not just a German phenomenon it is also popular in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden - but you could say the Germans really put their ‘Harz’ in it!