In pictures: A short history of the fabulously fun Finnish holiday Vappu

vappu

It’s time for one of Finland’s most loved holidays: Vappu!

Vappu, the Finnish version of Walpurgis Night and May Day, is a huge carnival-style festival that welcomes the coming of spring and warmer weather. Finns take to the streets and parks on the evening of April 30th to celebrate, drink, eat and socialize. For foreign visitors, it’s something of an unexpected sight to see hundreds (even thousands) of Finns kicking back in the park with alcohol and picnics, surrounded by colorful balloons and wearing what appear to be sailor caps.

Vappu has evolved quite a bit throughout history. With roots in the pagan May Day, it was affected by the Christian Saint Walpurga starting in 870, became an upper-class springtime celebration in the 1700s, and then became associated with Labor Day in the 1800s. These days Vappu is known as a celebration for students and workers, but festival-goers of all ages take part in the fun.




So how does one celebrate Vappu? You do what no festival would be complete without: you drink! The traditional beverage for Vappu is sima (mead), but any type of beverage can be enjoyed. In addition to the obligatory drinking, Finns celebrate by donning their white graduation caps. Even Finnish statues wear their caps! In Helsinki, it’s a tradition to “cap” Havis Amanda, a statue in the city center, and many other cities have similar traditions. We hear Turku’s statue capping also involves a giant toothbrush.

On May 1st, the May Day celebrations continue with picnics in the park (and perhaps a little more drinking) and typical carnival fare such as balloons, streamers, pranks, and songs.

Vappu is one of Finland’s biggest holidays and has been for years. Let’s take a look at how Finns celebrated it in the past, with a few old school photos and a video of Vappu’s past.




1305951752654

 

oulu vappu 1948

 

större

 

vappu

 

vappu_Bonin_Volker_von_630

 

vappuK19071

 

vappumarssi3

 

HH_15

 

pic_5_610703_k610704_1200

 

tumblr_m3btkxXYOm1r0i8wko1_1280

 




tumblr_m3btzsKwut1r0i8wko1_1280

 

Vappu_Esplanadilla

 

vappu snow

 

vappu snow 2

 

VappuHelsinki1975

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories about super Suomi




2 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *