Celebrating the First of May
The May Day celebrations in Finland go farther back than the socialist-communist tradition of celebrating Worker's Day. In fact, the May Day celebrations co-incide with a festival for celebrating Spring dating back to pre-Christian times. It is no surprise that this time of year is the time of year to celebrate Spring. Though Spring often is rather cool still in early May, women usually wear something nice and summery, bravely ignoring the usually cold breezes whilst shivering in thin clothes. The student hats (white caps) do provide some protection for the heads. This is the only day of the year people wear their student hats, except for the day when they get them (as a sign of passing the matriculation examination around end of May, early June).
Celebrations start 30 April, as May Day is a day off (and all shops are closed!). Friends are invited over for dinner, or you all go out to enjoy the merriment in the bars. Or possibly both. The following day, 1 May, is usually more serene. There are the left-wing parades, and then there is the traditional choir singing in the parks.
In Helsinki, it is the Kaisaniemi park at 10 am, in Turku it is the evening before and in Ekenäs it is the local men's choir that provides the musical entertainment in Stallörsparken, in that weird looking partial dome-shaped construction.
Having thus nourished their spirit, many steer towards Knipan, the summer restaurant de rigeur that opens for the season during the May Day festivities. If you did not get around to booking a table in time, other eateries are also open. Or then you can enjoy lunch at home, or - if the weather is decent - a picnic in parks like Stallörsparken or at Ramsholmen. If too cold to sit down and eat, at least you can take a walk on Ramsholmen and some years you will be able to pick white anemones. But leave the yellow ones alone, they are protected!
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Empty streets in the summer
In the height of summer, during weekends and holidays in July and August, the locals take their boats to their summer cottages out in the archipelago to spend some quality time in the helm of Mother Nature. Preferably by the sound of lapping waves and relaxing with a cold drink after a good session in the summer cottage sauna, waiting for the barbequed food to get cooked.
This is a consequence of the fact that most self-respecting locals either own a boat, know somebody who own a boat or then at least plan on buying a boat. The really posh ones have sailing boats of varying sizes and descriptions. The guest harbour is also supposed to be good, which is the least to be expected in a town of archipelago farers.
So if, during hot and sunny summer days, you find the streets of Ekenäs eerily empty, now you know why :-).
Particularly during Midsummer Eve, you will find the locals few and far between, and those stranded ones that indeed still are in town, are probably working the next day ;) However, during Midsummer, young people from out of town flock the camping ground, parks and beaches. The local bar life gets some extra colour from the influx of visitors.
If you feel like riding the waves yourself, do check out the website below, on means of transportation out to the archipelago.
- Sailing and Boating
Sauna is maybe the only Finnish word that is used globally, we have sauna everywhere here, but public sauna is not that common anymore as almost everyone have them at home.
On a hot summer day, it is so relaxing sitting in a terrace by the sea, watching the sun set (around 11 pm) and having s cold dark lager beer.
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