Friday, May 4, 2007

Labour Day

In almost every country, May the 1st is Labor Day. But in Finland, it means more than that. It is one of the most important days of the year in addition to Christmas and Midsummer Day ( I'll tell you more about it in due time...) Vappu, like it's called in Finnish, is celebrated by everyone, not just by workers.

"Vappu" is "the party of the spring" and it begins already on April 30th. If May 1 falls on a Monday, celebrations usually tend to begin on the Friday preceding Vappu.
The celebration has different features in different parts of the country. In Helsinki people gather to the Park of Esplanadi to wash and "cap" the statue of Havis Amanda, also known as Manta.
As soon as Manta is capped, everyone who has passed the matriculation examination in high school can wear a white cap. When the folks assigned to wash and cap the statue have done their job, white caps appear everywhere.
After the capping and popping of thousands of bottles of Sparkling Wine or Champagne Finns normally proceed to different parties.
Besides being "the party in the spring," Vappu is the official opening of the summer season. And every Finn has a reason to celebrate. It is not that summer actually begins in Finland on May 1st. Instead, Finns believe that the weather on Vappu gives them an idea what the summer will be like. This year, despite the sunshine, it was perhaps the windiest and coldest day since spring began.
Vappu means different things to different Finns. For students, Vappu is an important party day that marks the end of lectures and the school year. For young, unemployed people, it is a reason to drink, get drunk and forget their troubles. For the old, it is a time to get stoned with friends. For everyone, it is a Finnish Carnival.


Anniina said...

Stoned? I didn't know you smoked pot, dad? Heheheh. Great article though :)

onlyjokinglasse said...

Live and learn. I thought "stoned" was just getting drunk.