The Swedish city of Lund is spreading chicken manure around its public parks in an effort to discourage crowds from gathering to celebrate Walpurgis Night, a national holiday in the Scandinavian country. Officials are taking the action in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.
As CNN reports, ordinarily at this time of year, the Swedes would be gearing up for the national celebration. However, this is obviously not a normal year, and with the global pandemic still spreading, large gatherings of people are off the table.
Of course, that's not to say that some haven't been ignoring social distancing guidelines and gathering in large groups anyway. So Lund Mayor Philip Sandberg decided to employ a little creativity in keeping townsfolk from gathering in public parks to celebrate the holiday: he ordered the city's maintenance crews to spread chicken manure on the ground.
"On a national level Sweden has banned all gatherings of more than 50 people and in the city of Lund we are doing what we can to get more people to follow this ban," Sandberg said.
As an added bonus, spreading the 2,000 pounds of chicken manure around the parks fertilizes the soil.
"It will stink of chicken manure and won't be pleasant for people to be around, but the chicken has a lot of phosphorus and nitrogen in so the park will be nice just in time for the summer," Sandberg said.
Sandberg also said that the reaction around town has been positive.
Sweden's approach to the coronavirus pandemic has differed sharply from that of the rest of Europe. While most of the continent has imposed strict lockdown rules to slow the spread of the virus, Sweden has done comparatively little. Large gatherings are banned, but businesses remain open, although workers who are able to work from home are encouraged to do so.
Whether or not Sweden's strategy is the right one is, of course, a matter of debate. The country has reported 21,092 coronavirus cases and 2,586 deaths, out of a population of about 10.3 million people. By comparison, the United States, with a population of 328 million, has just over 1 million confirmed cases and 62,175 deaths, as of this writing, according to Worldometer.
Walpurgis Night is an ancient Christian tradition that has been celebrated for centuries in parts of Europe to honor Saint Walpurga. In Sweden, where it's called Valborgsmässoafton, locals celebrate by holding bonfires and group choral singing. In Lund and a couple of other Swedish cities, university students and graduates often gather to herald the end of the academic year.