Vappu is one of the biggest national holidays were Finns celebrate their workforce and the Unions. The importance of the Unions is to have supporting groups that look for the wellbeing and a fair worklife, regulations and laws among the different trades like engineering (TEK). Finland is a country were the labour unions are very strong and respected among the workers and employers. Vappu, is a day to remember the importance of labour and a day to party and have a good time with friends and family. Internationally know as May day or Labour day, Vappu is celebrated in many countries in the world to commemorate the workers.
In Finland Vappu is a colourful, musical and relaxing celebration happening in all the places around the country. As part of the official ceremonies, Finns also have a tradition of visiting local monuments. Some unions and political parties beside the students give speeches related to their activities, achievements and goals.
Vappu is also the last celebration before the students start their summer jobs and move away from their study places and relocate around the country. In the student life, Vappu is the party of the year and there are continuous guild parties starting already a month in advance – yes, we students do like to party!-.
Some of the activities are so different to what you would probably expect and also very popular like the renowned Wesibussi, which is a bus that drives around the city bringing people to join the party. Furthermore, Vappu is the only time of the year where you’re allowed to drink inside the bus whilst loud music plays in the background. Basically, you’re in the party the minute you step in the bus and drive around with your friends and drink. The popularity of this bus is so crazy and famous that students make huge lines to get the tickets and even they –literally camp– inside the campus the night before the tickets are available. Obviously, the tickets are sold like hot baked bread so you really need to be in the line if you don’t want to miss the party!
The main day of the happening is the Vappu eve, which is the last day of April. In the downtown you can find vendors with large amounts of balloons indicating that the celebration has started. Students are found all over the city with their colourful overalls representing each guild they belong to –mine is mint colour and represents Industrial Engineering– and then they all walk to the park in the center of Oulu.
At the park in the Oulu center there is another interesting happening, called the “Freshmen Swimming” where the freshmen students of technological guilds will jump into a pond. The crowd gathers around it to verify that the student have completely dipped in the water – which sometimes can be very icy and crisp -. If the student fails to dip fully, the crowd will make him or her sumerge until is done properly. This activity is very popular in the technological guilds all over Finland. After the event the students will receive the Teekkarilakki which is a cap with a black a tassel that identifies technological students. This activity is sort of a graduation for all the freshmen students.
Part of the fun of Vappu day is to gather with friends and arrange picnics serving popular snacks like sausages and chips as well as various sorts of beverages which can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, I like to enjoy sparkling wine! Some people decide to have a barbecue at their homes with friends. After this event in the park, going to saunas as pre party is very common. The guilds organize activities and parties in the night. Heads up, heavy drinking is very common in this day for the students!
Vappu is not only for the students, people from all ages celebrate it as their own. You can see kids with their friends with balloons as well as students jumping to the pond and adults with their student caps commemorating the student life and showing that they did the same rituals in their student’ times. Expect also to see people wearing wigs and colourful decor over them, remember that Vappu is a carnival too!
Traditional pastries and drinks of the Vappu are: Munkki and Sima. Munkki is a Finnish doughnut, spiced with cardamom, deep fried and covered with caster sugar. The most common shapes found for this delicacy is the doughnut shape and round shaped munkki which can be filled with jelly or cream. Sima, in the other hand, is a sort of mead which is a type of beverage obtain by fermentation and depending on the time is fermented can contain low amounts of alcohol levels. This drink is made with lemon, yeast, brown sugar and raisins and normally made few weeks in advance, the sima is very tasty and a must try in Vappu.
So, Vappu celebrations are about to start and it’s my time to join the party!
Have a great Vappu everyone!
Cheers! Salud! Kippis!