Have you heard about Vappu? It is a Finnish name for the event that is celebrated as International Labour Day around the world. In Finland, there is a strong and unique traditions for the happening.

Students wearing their caps and overalls.

Vappu

Selected students from one of the universities being lifted to put a cap on her head.

So what is it?

Vappu is a traditional spring festival that is celebrated annually and it marks the end of winter in Finland. The festival is named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga, as Walpurga’s feast was held on 1st of May, she became associated with Vappu.

Vappu is something you really want to be a part of as a student. It is the biggest party of the year for students. Some students start the celebrations already few weeks before “pääpäivä”, the main celebration day. The celebrations can consist of different type of cheerful events depending on the University. For the Labour day itself, the traditional program is similar everywhere.

Vappu Eve is kind of a Finnish version of carnival. You can expect to see students wearing colourful student overalls – every University Faculty has their own colour. People are also wearing a white cap with black visor. All Finnish students get these caps upon graduation from high school to remind them of their accomplishment and good student days. Older people usually wear their caps only once a year, in Vappu.

 

What do people do during Vappu?

The main festivities start on 30th of April, also known as the Walpurgis Night or Vappu Eve. In Helsinki, at 6 o’clock in the evening, students will gather at the Market Square to wash the statue of a nude female called Havis Amanda, before putting a huge white cap, on her. People toast with champagne and wish each other ‘Hauskaa Vappua’. The celebration goes on all night until next morning. On 1st of May, everyone heads to the parks where they have picnic and drink “skumppa”, sparkling wine. The best way to get rid of any tiredness from the previous night!

 

What to eat and drink during Vappu?

Now it is time to talk about what to eat and drink during Vappu. If you are visiting Finland be sure to order the following traditional foods in restaurants or at food stalls when you see them.

 

Sima, the Finnish mead

Sima is a sweet, low percentage alcoholic drink that is mainly consumed on Vappu, and is most of the time homemade. It is orange of colour and some raisins floating on top of it. A nice refreshing drink for Vappu!

Tippaleipä

Tippaleipä is a type of funnel cake. The batter is poured into hot cooking oil and deep-fried, then it is sprinkled with powdered sugar, Nutella works too.

Munkki

Last but not least, munkki, a type of Finnish donut. It’s almost like a traditional donut, but different. Munkki is made of different dough and is usually round shaped.

 

Participate!

If you are planning a trip to Finland during spring or you are currently studying there I can recommend participating Vappu with the Finns for the weekend. It is great way to experience a typical Finnish festivity with lots of parties and good food.

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