Keep that flag out after “War Veterans Day” for May 1st: Vappu
What is Vappu?
With its northern latitude leading to cold. dark winters, the arrival of spring has always been a welcome event in Finland and a tradition of a festival to mark the turning of the seasons dates back to pagan times.
A Finnish twist on the May Day celebrations developed in the nineteenth century when engineering students would celebrate and party at midnight on 30 April, while sporting their traditional white caps.
This custom has now become widespread across Finland, leading to almost a carnival-like partying in towns and cities with large student populations.
Festivities begin in Helsinki at 6pm on 30 April, when students will gather at the Market Square to wash the statue of a nude female called Havis Amanda, before putting a white cap on her head.
On 1 May, students and graduates will then lead a procession through Helsinki, ending in large open-air picnics in the parks across the city. Mead and doughnuts are traditional treats on this day.
Submitted by Joyce Hannula