How though, did Walpurgisnacht come to be? No one is certain, however, the day has been influenced and molded by many different cultures and beliefs throughout the centuries and some modern day observances can still be found, particularly in Germany.
Celts referred to the eve of May as Cet Samhain - the opposite of Samhain or Halloween, as April 30th falls exactly six months after Samhain. It is believed that on these two nights the veil between the worlds separating the living and the dead - the seen and the unseen thins; allowing devils, demons and witches to mingle openly among us as they travel to their meeting places. Many of them will be on their way to The Broken, the highest mountain peak in Germany’s Harz Mountains, surrounded by a deep, dark and wild forest that is often shrouded in thick mists.
Mayday (May 1st) and All Soul's Day, (November 1st), are known as cross quarter days, as they roughly fall between the equinox and solstice - a crossroads of the year, as it were. Since the days of Ancient Greece it is Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, who stands guard at these cross roads. There, an unwitting traveller was likely to encounter ghosts and mischievous elementals, mysterious lights and music, and was able to witness the celebratory cavorting of witches and other beasties, or even be at risk of permanently losing their shadow.
The classic German book for children, "The Little Witch," provides us with a rundown of exactly which witches were among Walpurgisnacht celebrants. There are mountain witches, wood witches, mist witches, marsh witches, storm witches, wind witches, flower witches and herb witches. Each region seems to have their own witchy figure who presides over this important night.