For those not familiar with our long weekend it was Walpurgis Night on Thursday night - as always on the 30th of April. As with most festivities in this country it is a pre-Christian tradition celebrated by many around the country and beyond. Walpurgis night is bonfire night!For Swedes of today it signals spring in all its glory. And you only know what that really means after having been here all winter and truely experiencing spring in all its glory. Valborg as we affectionately refer to it is practical almost as much as it is symbolic, as it offers a chance to burn the garden waste after the spring clean-up and pruning of the bushes and trees. It is also a opportunity to bring people together, for local organisations to sell lotto tickets and raise some money and to celebrate the approaching good weather - approaching I say because it is rarely good weather on Valborg. This year was an exception and although it was typically colder on Thursday night it was much milder and clearer than I have ever known it.
Unfortunately Valborg is also a big drinking night for teens and there are usually many incidences of alcohol related problems thanks to others buying alcohol for the under-aged youth.
We had a lovely evening with friends, eating dinner outside(!) with 3 other families before walking to the local fire. As you can see it was a big one and there were a lot of people there. Countless were streaming out and heading home as we approached. Music was playing courtesy of a 3-man band on the stage, people were selling lottery tickets as well as tea, coffee & cake in the little booths. Kids were running about, there were prams, bikes and dogs everywhere.
We hung back for a while before we ventured closer to take a look at the mighty bonfire - each family separating in groups to get as close as possible. After warming up we headed back to find the others and then everything changed. It only took a few seconds. I turned back to say something to Ty and in the meantime Kieran took off and headed back to the fire with the sticks he wanted to throw into it. I was standing at the yellow booths when he disappeared into the crowd. I didn't see him go, I didn't see which direction he went. He just disappeared.
We ran around like mad things looking for him. He was nowhere to be seen. Makaila was beside herself and told me she just wanted to stop and cry - but we had to keep looking. I saw one of the dads we were with and alerted him to get the others to help look and then headed straight for the stage - everything you can imagine flashed before my eyes - it makes me ill to think too much about it even now. They made an announcement and Makaila and I stood and waited, and waited. It seemed like an eternity. It was an entire song. I was just about to tell them to announce again when I saw my friend coming towards me with my son in her arms. Such relief. Makaila grabbed her brother, hugged him and burst into tears. We found Ty who was running about all over the place. We were all so relieved - except Kieran who didn't really understand what all the fuss was about!!
Neither of my kids have been the types to take off so we had never experienced losing them - now we have. It is a dreadful, dreadful feeling and I think it is all these terrible stories in the media that made it as bad as it was...... You automatically go off the deep end and think worse case scenario.We recovered and took Kieran back to the fire, to where he had been mesmerized standing with his dad, and where my friend found him. And he threw his sticks in to burn with all the others. A little later there were fireworks followed by a cold walk back to the house, warm drinks and apple crumble. All is well that ends well.
My advice after this little adventure? Apart from the obvious - don't take your eyes off your kids in a crowd, warm clothes (always advisable in this country) - and bright hats - just in case you do take your eyes off them, even for a split second. Yellow is a great colour for a hat don't you think?