Dr. Tim de Mey
Three times a year, I return to Finland and one of those times is always 1 May 1st because I don’t want to miss Vappu.
Vappu is a student festival in Finland. During Vappu, everyone up to the age of 18 wears a white cap. The reason for this is that up until high school, things are very egalitarian. After graduation, however, students split up and go their own way to pursue their studies. Everyone goes to the park at sea (kaforu pusko) with friends and family where there’s a huge park picnic. It has a very friendly atmosphere and no commercial approach whatsoever.
Twenty years ago, I studied in Finland for a year. Three times a year, I return to Finland and one of those times is always 1 May because I don’t want to miss Vappu. During the celebrations, we exchange caps and we eat and drink together. On 1 May, celebrations take place throughout the day as well as protest parades by left wing political parties, but this is only a small group. For me, the best part is the student part of this celebration; it has a special place in my heart. What I like so much about it is being together and the equality this celebration represents. I think that’s wonderful. Because I like it so much, I sometimes bring along friends to enable them to experience it too.
One of the rituals of Vappu is washing a 3 metre high statue which is then adorned with a white student cap. In the evening, the party continues with snacks and drinks with family and friends.
I always meet the same people. We´re a regular group of friends who meet during Vappu and go to the park each year. One time, we went on and on until very late at night just because it was so much fun. In May, the days get longer and the weather is usually very nice as well. That´s why Vappu is also a spring holiday.