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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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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If I needed to choose only one season to visit Finland, the answer would be summer. During the summer months, the normally quiet country will be in full bloom. Here are few things that make Finnish summer simply amazing.
In June, the sun does not go down in Lapland at all and all other parts of Finland only get few hours of darkness a day, which creates an unique feeling of a nightless night. You can stay out late and enjoy the beautiful green nature around you. Hence, you can clearly see a change in Finns: people are smiling, being outdoors and enjoying their life. Cities can be described as vibrant. That’s something that is not happening in November. In addition, long hours of light will give you an energy boost – you’ll have more energy to explore the wonders of the summer for sure.
After few hours of night, you’ll wake up to a typical summer morning. The air is fresh even in the city centers and you can experience the morning dew every day. The scent of summer is unique and will wake you up even after a night of bad sleep. You’ll be ready for the day the moment you step out and feel the mild breeze touching your face.
Even though the air quality is good and nature is strongly present in Finnish cities, it is common to escape citylife to remote summer cottages and enjoy the silence. Almost every family has a summer cottage – there is over half a million of them in Finland. That’s quite a good number for a country with only 5 million citizens.
You cannot separate sauna from summer cottages. There is one in almost every summer cottage. The best part is to run from burning hot sauna directly to refreshing lake or sea. Finns can spend hours going to sauna, swimming, sauna, swimming… Ice cold beer is part of the experience. And even though Finnish people are known to be shy, in sauna that characteristic is not present. Usually, people enjoy sauna and dip to the water naked.
After sauna, it’s time for dinner. Finnish delicacies are one the best part in the summer. Meals are healthy and fresh. Grilled meat is usually served with potatoes, salads, and bread. Eating is a social event and people are enjoying the dinner until the late evening since the sun doesn’t go down. Nightless nights also make Finnish strawberries extremely sweet. A delicious combination of strawberries and ice cream melts everyone’s heart. In fact, Finns love ice cream and an average Finnish person eats around 12 liters of ice cream a year. That’s quite a lot!
Finnish summer is unique in a way that cannot be explained in words – you need to experience it yourself.
Check Visit Finland’s video to get inspired.
In just one short century Finland has become one of the most developed countries in the world – energy, health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life. Finland is all about thriving cities and idyllic landscapes, an innovative society with a green lifestyle and a national character with its Northern heritage.
The mindset, courage and determination that led Finland through all these years, continues to drive us forward today. The question is, what is it that makes Finland beat other countries at just about everything?
Finland’s education system has often been held up as the world’s best on different rankings. ‘Less is more’ principle that supports fewer hours at school, less formality, homework and exams, but instead, more rest, more options and more freedom and creativity, has made Finnish education a world leader and is something of which all Finns can be proud.
Freedom for the individual, equal opportunities, respect and tolerance are core values in Finnish society. For the second year, Finland has been named as the best country in the world at maximizing and leveraging its human capital potential and the second most equal country in the world thanks to its strong regard to equality and diversity. Also, a sense of community, healthy lifestyle and the ability to steam your worries away in a traditional Finnish sauna, made Finland the 5th happiest country in the world.
Finland is the most stable country and the safest travel destination in the world. Additionally, the country leads the world in governance and has the lowest level of organised crime and corruption. That is why Finland is the most well-functioning country and the Finnish handshake is the most reliable one.
There must be something about the air in Finland or maybe it is because of those long dark winter nights, but Finns are ranked as one of the most innovative nations in the world. Quite hard to find a person, who hasn’t heard of Finnish sauna, Angry Birds or legendary Nokia. Among other Finnish-born inventions are the first Internet browser, rescue toboggan, the heart-rate monitor, salty liquorice (‘Salmiakki’), the Linux OS, ice skates, the Molotov cocktail and the SMS.
Environmental issues are high priority in Finland and no wonder why: Finnish nature is breathtaking, with huge forests, endless lakes, long coastlines, beautiful archipelagos, majestic
northern fells and many other nature miracles. If you are concerned with sustainable development for a greener future, Finland is the right place for you.
Finnish design is known and famous worldwide for many decades. Design is a huge part of a daily life in Finland and can be noticed everywhere from the kitchen cupboards, stocked with Arabia tableware and Iittala glassware to Alvar Aalto’s Savoy vases during special occasions, various decorations with unique Marimekko patterns, pieces of Artek furniture and designer clothes or leisurewear by IvanaHelsinki, Ril’s, Tiia Vanhatapio, Halti or Rukka. Finnish design isn’t just something you see — it is something you experience.
Isn’t Finland the best place to live?