Vappu (1st. of May), Helsinki
I was fortunate enough to be in Finland for Vappu - May the 1st. This marks the beginnings of spring after a long, cold, dark winter and Finns wear their summer clothes for it even if it's still snowing!!! On the Eve of Vappu the Havis Amanda statue gets a bath and a student cap is placed on her head. On May 1st everyone wears their student caps and there are lots of street festivities. It is a time to be outdoors after being stuck inside all winter.
As it is also Labour Day there is also a Communist parade.
Some Finns make a special lemonade called "sima" for the occasion from lemons, brown sugar, and yeast.
This is to tell you a little bit about a Finnish tradition called Vappu (the 1st of May). We have big Vappu celebrations over here with dancing in the streets, lots of balloons and funny masks etc. And it's always been a students' day in this country even though workers tried to take over at some point and claim it their day. You can still see the traditional worker's marches, though.
The polytechnic students publish a special Vappu magazine called Äpy and sell it in the streets. It's very funny and has a limited edition.
It's a long long tradition from way back when, as well, that students give the statue Havis Amanda (at the Market Square Kauppatori) a good scrub and put a giant size white student's cap on her head in the evening before Vappu. Every year, thousands of people gather to follow this routine. And then, on Vappu morning, people wear their white student caps and go to have early morning champagne brunch at Ullanlinna park. You have to go really early if you want to grab a good spot for it's crowded.
Well, that's about it for now. Just wanted to share this with you.
Havis Amanda is a mermaid statue and fountain located across from the fish market (kauppatori) - It was designed in 1908 by one of Finlands most beloved artists; Ville Vallgren.
The statue is also known as "MANTA" and is commonly regarded as the symbol of Helsinki if not all of Finland.
For a special treat - why not join students on Vappu (May Day) to celebrate the coming of spring.
...what to tell you that you don't be scared? Just kidding! Vappu is a great excuse to get drunk for many Finns. Actually it's the traditional celebration of workers and students.
In the downtown area be aware the traffic jams on April 30 (the eve of Vappu). Tens of thousands of people wander the streets throwing serpentine, opening champagne bottles, laughing and enjoying usually a very cold weather.
The official ceremonies take place at the end of Esplanadi Park near the Market Square at 6 pm when university students put a huge student's cap on the head of the statue of Havis Amanda. After this everybody put on their own student's caps and the real celebration could start.
1st of May everyone goes to Kaivopuisto park with sparkling wines, champagnes and picnic foods.
The statue of the great Olympian Pavo Nurmi gained a Vappu hat and a bottle of beer to celebrate Vappu. I saw a bunch of foreign sightsseers attempt to remove this in order to take a photograph but a bunch of students in overalls appeared out of nowhere and chased them off.
Vappu, which is on the 1st. of May, is a big festival in Finland and the students also celebrating their graduation.
*Thos Popeye caps are not a navy hats but old tradition in Finland (and Sweden) as graduation caps.
1st of May - Vappu is the time of STUDENTS. If you are in town on this date, you will see all the university students walking (drinki, having fun, teasing adults etc.etc.) around in their overalls - in their university's colours with their university sign on the back. If you are going to be one of students in Finland, don't hesitate and buy yourself the overall as well. It is fun and it is a tradition.