Hauskaa Vappua!That means Happy May Day. Vappu (the Vappu Eve on 30 April and May Day) is one of the biggest holidays in Finland, sort of a big street party or a carnival.
Now, when I say carnival, or a street party, you're probably thinking about some sort of processions or dancing and food stands etc.
Well, there are food stands (hot dogs, burgers etc. mainly). Alcohol is both very expensive and controlled in Finland (= only available in licensed shops or in restaurants), but this has never prevented people from getting
Anyway, these pictures were taken on 30 April, and my fearless (possibly somewhat culture-shocked) photographer / husband and I ventured right where the action is...
Vappu is particularly important for university students, and various student associations go out in more or less organised groups, for a night of
And here we see some students all dressed up in their festive gear:
Err, festive? Have I gone bonkers? Isn't that what you're thinking?
Given the balmy temperature (+11 ºC / 52 ºF ) and all the drinking they have to do (outdoors), it's probably easier to crawl back home in the early hours wearing something like this...
So, do Finnish festivals always involve excessive drinking, is that what you're asking now? The short answer: yes. My advice: if a Finn asks you have a drink with him / her, say no. For heaven's sake, just say no! You can hold your liquor? Sure you can, I believe you. You probably also have a cut off point, and stop drinking after a few drinks, right? You certainly stop drinking when the bar closes, don't you? Well, Finns stop drinking when they either pass out or are hauled away by the police...
Anyway, back to Vappu...
This is what kicks off the festivities: the capping of Havis Amanda (that would be the statue of a woman you see in these pictures).
Let me explain...
On Vappu it is a custom to wear the white cap we usually wear for graduation (similar to A-levels, or high school graduation).
My white cap is a bit tight. Maybe my head has got bigger...
Universities take turns being the master of ceremonies on Vappu (this year it was University of the Arts doing the honours). And what exactly do they do? Well, to put it simply: a group of students are hoisted up in the air on a crane so that they can place a white cap on the statue. And then everybody puts on their white cap. And that's it.
coat: Seasalt Cornwall / scarf: Marimekko (old) / jeans: Next / bag: Coach (old) /
Breton top: Jigsaw / shoes: Nike / sunglasses: Chanel
location: Esplanadi (Helsinki)
location: Esplanadi (Helsinki)
The Day After...
And then, the following day (1 May), those who are not too hungover and / or wake up early enough (or never went to bed) go to one of the big parks in the city for a picnic (with some bubbly, of course). This is what the park looked like on 1 May in the afternoon:
And those of us who find early mornings / crowded places not their cup of tea, well, they go and have a festive May Day lunch in a nice restaurant. But that's another story, for another time. Stay tuned for part 2 of May Day celebrations...
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