Tag Archives: vappu

Finnish celebrations

For me, the best thing about Finland is our holidays.

New year’s eve is dedicated to parties, foods, drinks, friends and of course sparklers and fireworks.Friends gather around to have a good time, many people rent a cottage or host parties. Most of our money is disappeared in the sky thanks to fireworks.

Easter is dedicated more to family and dinners. Stores are full or Easter eggs, decorations and of course famous mämmi. As a child, it’s even more fun because you go to this folk tradition (virpoa) and you prepare your outfit and birches for it.

After Easter comes the first of May celebration. All the graduated put their graduation caps on and visit the markets to buy balloons and licorice. After that in some cities, you go to watch new engineer freshman’s getting their dew and go to parks for a picnic. Later on, students gather around with their overalls on to parties. The next morning is dedicated to brunch.

Juhannus the midsummer celebration is the biggest thing you can imagine to happen in Finland in the summer. Younger generation rent cottages, book hotel rooms or wild ones just take tents with them and gather around to these huge 3-day festivals with biggest Finnish artists. Calmer people go to cottages by the river, enjoy barbecue and funny “Olympic” games.

Independence day is dedicated to everything related to Finland. In the morning you watch Tuntematon sotilas (“the Unknown Soldier”) movie from tv and the evening you spent watching Independence day reception from presidential palace admiring beautiful dresses and dances while eating Fazer’s chocolate.

Preparation for Christmas starts early. Stores get filled with Christmas chocolates and decorations. Towns become Christmassy with trees, lights and shop windows. Christmas eve on 24th of December is the main day. Sauna and rice porridge are part of traditions as are also watching this television program where children call to Santa Claus and of course Snowman film. People visit the graveyard to ignite candles for the people passed away. Big Christmas dinners with ham, salmon and different casseroles are enjoyed with families and some visit church in the night.

Vappu and Juhannus- could there be more finnish way to celebrate?

Finnish people are said to be quite calm and quiet people. But they do know how to party, at least a couple of times during the year! Here´s a couple of examples:

1st of May. That´s when the spring and “early summer” officially starts, no matter what. The actual weather doesn´t mean a thing when thousands and thousands of people wander to parks to have a picnic after previous night´s massive celebration.

(1st of May celebrants in the center of Helsinki)

But what do people celebrate every year? First of all it marks the end of long winter. After months of darkness and cold it is time to come out from caves and celebrate the light and coming summer! And really, the actual weather on 1st of May doesn’t mean a thing at all. It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or it´s raining wet snow, people still go out to have a picnic or at least on marches that are held on that day across Finland.

1st of May, Vappu in finnish, is the celebration of the workers and that´s why the name ”Labour day”. can be used also. It has been a political celebration, specially in 1970s among the left wing party. Political climate has changed during the decades and now the most visible group of celebrants are the students with their colourful overalls and white student caps. You can see those caps on other people´s heads also, it is traditional and annual way of celebrate your high school graduation.

(Student celebrants on 1 st of May)

Vappu means a lot to finnish people. It gives us ”the permission” to start to enjoy the spring and summer, go out and hug the world once again. It´s not just an event, it´s a happening that you have explore! 😊

 

If Vappu is the celebration of the end of coldness and darkness, the summer officially starts with Midsummer Festival- Juhannus! It is held during 21st-23th of June every year. While people march on streets and gather together into parks on Labour Day, Juhannus is the time when most of us go to cottages with family and friends, have a sauna, swim in the lake and grill sausages. But traditionally there´s a lot of bonfires that are lit across the country to gather people to be together for a moment and enjoy the Midsummer´s nightless night. One of bonfire´s original reasons was to keep bad spirits away from the area, today it is assumingly more an old tradition that people want to keep alive.

(Summer cottage is probably the most popular place to spend Midsummer´s celebration)

Nowadays many big music festivals are being held during 21st-23th of June and those parties are really popular specially among younger people. Finland is a country of thousands of lakes, but sea is very important to many people also. Traditions vary a bit depending what part of Finland you are while Midsummer, but the most important tradition is to gather family and friends together and celebrate the relatively short summer, light and warmth that is happening. Even if it´s not that warm.. It might be the summer weather with 25 degrees and sunshine or 5 degrees with cold rain during Juhannus, but once again, that´s not the point. Finnish people love traditions and if it said that summer officially starts on 21st of June, then it starts, no matter what. 😊