Here in Finland May 1st is an important day. No one works! It is a national day off. Here are some facts:
The Finnish name for May Day, "Vappu", originates from Catholic St. Walpurgis, who's commemoration day was celebrated on the 1st of May. In Central-Europe, this day has been celebrated as a festival of spring since medieval times. The first May Day festivities in Finland started in parsonages and upper-class families in the 1700's. At that time people celebrated the day by going horse riding enjoying the greenery of spring, and held "Mead" parties at home together with friends and family. The Finnish May Day celebration, as it is nowadays, was started by secondary school graduates in the 1800's. Even back then the festival was a time of rejoicing and very "Damp" students. Student caps might have been worn from 1st of May until the end of September, but nowadays students and past students wear it on the eve of May Day and on the actual day.
In Finland May Day celebrations begin on May Day Eve. In Helsinki the statue "Havis Amanda" (pictured above), which lies near to the Helsinki market square, receives her white student's cap at six o'clock, at the same time as people put their caps on. This has been a tradition since 1932. Similar ceremonies take place in cities all around Finland, with different statues being "capped". The celebrations have begun and soon a carnival like atmosphere spreads among the normally quiet and reserved Finns, who enthusiastically chat and raise their glasses together with persons they have never met before. May Day markets are full of knick-knacks, serpentines, flowers, whistles, May Day whisks, balloons and masks for children and childlike adults. Sparkling wines flow and there is spring in the air, and what does it matter if it is snowing, as it sometimes still does at the end of April.
The next day people head for parks to have picnics together with friends and family and brunches served in restaurants are also popular meeting points. Traditional May Day delicacies are fritters called "tippaleipä" and they are served together with homemade mead, "sima".
This is the traditional information about VAPPU Day! You can see photos of this celebration at the end of the blog.
However, now I would like to share photos of our special VAPPU Day...we went on a bird watching adventure with our new Finnish friend who is an active bird watcher. We hiked 2km in to a commonly used bird watching area and it was well worth it.
|Wonder who lived here once...|
|Seeing the beautiful birds through a power telescope of 80x was amazing!|
|Binoculars made it fun too!|
|Thousands and thousands of birds migrate through this area making it an ever changing scene.|
|We saw more than birds...summer cottages, lighthouses and boats too.|
|Prettiest picture of the day!|
|Our friend even brought us homemade mead...not fermented yet of course.|
|One of the office sisters came along too and we all enjoyed the day together!|
|Time for a back crack!|
|Some of the oldest rocks known to man...|
|Off to a new location.|
|Bird watching towers are seen from the highways all over Finland.|
|Our cameras don't capture the beauty of the birds or the landscape like the binoculars or telescope.|
"Each moment of the year has its own beauty."While we were having a day spent with nature a much different event was going on downtown Helsinki. Here are a few photos shared with us by a friend.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ballon bouquets everywhere!
|Graduates wear pants and patches from their respective high schools.|
|More pants and patches...|
Students graduating will party downtown all night!
|Celebration on a massive scale! |
Earlier in the winter-spring graduates load into the snow dump trucks
and travel through Helsinki cheering and waving!
The Finnish people value education very much...people come from all over the world
to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered to all who come.
|The patches tell of their clubs and achievements...pant color designates the high school.|
|Hats everywhere!!! Both graduates and alumni come wearing them for the celebration.|
|Lots of drinking and more drinking...interesting facilities to take care of the large numbers of people.|
There were porta-potties for the ladies, thank goodness!
To complete this blog entry I would like to share some fun photos of Helsinki architecture. We so love what they do with their doorways...
|Can you tell this is a military building?|
|See the squirrels?|
Until next time...