Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Archive

  • May Day (May 1) marks the return of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, with origins in ancient agricultural rituals to ensure fertility, handed down from the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Later permutations included the Celtic festival of Beltane and Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from All Saints Day (November 1), and cross-quarter day with pagan overtones. Today, this ancient festival survives, including gathering wildflowers and decorating a May tree or Maypole, around which people dance, and some use it for political protest in association with International Workers Day.

    The Pagan Spring Fertility Origins of May Day

    May Day (May 1) marks the return of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, with origins in ancient agricultural rituals to ensure fertility, handed down from the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Later permutations included the Celtic festival of Beltane and Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from All Saints Day (November 1), and cross-quarter day with pagan overtones. Today, this ancient festival survives, including gathering wildflowers and decorating a May tree or Maypole, around which people dance, and some use it for political protest in association with International Workers Day.

    Continue Reading...

  • "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," an ages-old fairy tale interpreted as a poem by Goethe, made famous today by Disney's "Fantasia," illustrated the dangers of power over wisdom, and the risk of human creations getting out of control.

    Goethe’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”: Power Over Wisdom

    "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," an ages-old fairy tale interpreted as a poem by Goethe, made famous today by Disney's "Fantasia," illustrated the dangers of power over wisdom, and the risk of human creations getting out of control.

    Continue Reading...

  • E.T.A. Hoffmann's Literary Gothic: Every New Year's Eve the Devil keeps a special treat for me. He knows just the right moment to jam his claw into my heart, keeping up a fine mockery while he licks the blood that wells out.

    E.T.A. Hoffmann: The Soul’s Adventure on New Year’s Eve

    E.T.A. Hoffmann's Literary Gothic: Every New Year's Eve the Devil keeps a special treat for me. He knows just the right moment to jam his claw into my heart, keeping up a fine mockery while he licks the blood that wells out.

    Continue Reading...