And boy, do some Finns have fun on May Day!
The first time I was in Finland for Vappu, in 2007, I took part in the traditional celebrations in Helsinki, and was both amused and surprised by the decadence of the (normally reserved) Finns letting their hair down!
Once upon a time, so I am told, Vappu was a serious labour day celebration by working class people. But over time, students took over and now traditional Vappu celebrations essentially involve getting drunk. And I don't mean just drunk, I mean DRUNK!
In 2007, I witnessed crowds of undergraduate students (dressed in their university’s traditional boiler-suits) and ex-students (wearing their traditional graduation white caps) drinking in the streets around Esplanadi in central Helsinki, and cheering as a giant white cap was lowered by a crane onto a statue there.
|Giant graduation cap being lowered onto a statue|
|Crowds in Kaivopuisto|
Needless to say, that after all that, Helsinki was a scene of devastation, with the aftermath of mass binge drinking in evidence everywhere.
Vappu that year also remains engraved in my memory for another reason: it was then that I committed one of my worse bloopers in the Finnish language. Instead of wishing everyone a “hauskaa vappua”, it said “hauskaa vittua” – “vittu” being a very rude word for the female genitals. Strangely, some of the men seemed quite pleased with my wishes...