During 30 of May and 1st of April, Finland celebrates the festivity of VAPPU. This celebration, which begins on the evening of 30 of April and continues to 1 of May, is the biggest celebration of the year. Everybody participates in celebrating it, but there is a lot of student tradition behind; for most university students, Vappu starts a week before the day of celebration. The name of the celebration comes from the German “Walpurgis day”, that referes to the eve of 30 of april, which is believed to be the night of the witches. The first of May is public holiday, as in many other countries, and finns celebrate the international worker’s day, as well as the coming of the spring.
During the evening of 30 of May, there is speech in the centre of the city, and at the end of it people are be “allowed” to put their white caps on (student graduation caps). After that people move on to the Lilja patsas ( “Lily” statue) to put in it its own cap too. In Helsinki the statue that will get the cap is Havis Amanda one. This is how Vappu starts.
During first of May, people take out their white caps and go around the city and its parks, which are crowded of people making picnics, enjoying the company of friends and sparkling wine, surrounded by ballons, white caps and many other people enjoying the festivity. Picnic usually starts early in the morning of first of May.
During these days, it is tradition the consumption of “sima”, a home-made and low alcoholic drink. Sima is based on the hydromel that Vikings communities made. Nowadays it is prepared with water, lemon and sugar. Sima is accompanied of freshly cooked funnel cakes, whose name are Tippaleipä. This particular shaped cake is made of fried dough. Munkki is another traditional cake of the day, and consists in a sugared donut.
Text and photos: Marta Cadenas Blanco