Vappu – Finland’s most thrilling and adventurous national holiday

Published: 27.04.2023 / Blog / Event / Student life

There isn’t a more exciting thing for a Finn than seeing the sun after four months of complete winter darkness, which is why the celebration of Vappu is one of the largest and undoubtedly most spectacular festival-like outdoor celebrations in Finland. Read International Business student Vera Kapitonenko’s experience of Vappu!

Vappu, also known as Labor Day, was originally meant to honor laborers and high school graduates, however, nowadays it’s mostly viewed as a beloved national holiday which prides the arrival of spring, sun, and warm weather.

Only on the 30th of April and the 1st of May do Finnish cities transform into carnival-like destinations as part of the Vappu festival. The biggest outdoor “party” is mainly run by students dressed in bright signature overalls with colorful patches and iconic white graduation caps that every Finn receives after graduating high school and cherishes for the rest of their lives.

Student Vera Kapitonenko in her yellow overall.

For you to understand the importance of graduation caps, you should hear about the most important Vappu ritual where people crown Havis Amanda (Helsinki’s famous fountain statue) with the traditional creamy graduation cap after showering her in champagne.

Another amazing way to celebrate Vappu is to go for a picnic on the 1st of May as this day is reserved for relaxed picnics with friends at a park or by the water. There will be plenty of food and beverages available, you can enjoy entertaining performances and take part in organized games like tug of war or participate in a Vappu parade.

In addition to the typical picnic snacks there are traditional foods associated with Vappu that are worth trying. For example, Sima, a low-alcohol beverage with a sweet flavor topped with lemons and raisins, reminds me of homemade lemonade. And two other delicious desserts you simply must try are sugar-covered Finnish doughnuts called Munkki and a uniquely shaped sweet treat with powdered sugar called Tippaleipä.

Traditional Finnish Sima and sugar doughnuts.

Every year, students and just Finnish people look forward to celebrating Vappu as it’s the most thrilling and adventurous national holiday.

There is amazing food all over the place, music performances, theater shows and chariots. You can find many Finns completely unleashing themselves and even jumping into a fountain.

Vappu is the wildest yet friendliest and loudest outdoor celebration when Finns let loose and completely dispel the stereotype that they are shy, cold, and unfriendly.

Even if you’re new to Finland, I encourage you to go out and experience the Finnish tradition in action as you will undoubtedly make some new friends.

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