Bring on Vappu!
The entire school year has been building up to this. This is what you’ve been preparing for. This is what you’ve been waiting for. This is what all the student parties have been leading up to. This is where your Finnishness comes to the test. Bring on Vappu!
Vappu is the holiday for students, and I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about it, planning it and preparing for it for some time now. It is celebrated in the honour of Labor by not working at all, but instead, partying for days.
Vappu, aka May Day, is on the first of May, and is associated with Labor Day. It is traditionally celebrated in many countries, but Finnish students really know how Vappu is done. It is the biggest party of the year and students do tend to start the celebrations even weeks in advance. This holiday is the Finnish equivalent of a carnival, so once a year the oh so serious Finns get out their costumes, wigs and masks, the crazier the better, and head to parks and streets to celebrate. Necessary accessories include balloons, soap bubbles and serpentiini (a colourful paper string sort of a thing). Students usually wear overalls with their student cap that you get when graduating Finnish upper secondary school.
The main tradition during Vappu in Jyväskylä is the picnic at Harju on the first of May. Student organizations gather to hang out, listen to music, eat the snacks they brought and fix the hangover from last night with some sparkling wine. Now a proper Vappu picnic needs to include at least two things: sima and munkki. Sima is a drink, that can be found in all grocery stores around Vappu, but munkkis, a sugary donut desert, you can buy all year round. In Jyväskylä, there are also many other Vappu traditions outside of the student culture, for example a group of old cars driving around the city (also by Harju) on the Vappu Day, as well as bonfire that in the Middle Ages were burned to scare off evil spirits.
We have a saying “Vapu ei lopu” which means Vappu doesn’t end. Now take this advice to heart and gear up for the biggest student party of the year. We have been counting down the days ever since September.
Can’t wait to see you there!
Original text by Riina Haapasalmi