May Day in Finland

May Day, known as Vappu in Finnish, is a popular and widely celebrated holiday in Finland. It marks the beginning of spring and serves as a celebration for workers and students alike. In Finland, May Day is celebrated annually on the 1st of May.


The tradition of celebrating May Day in Finland can be traced back to pre-Christian times when it was a pagan festival marking the start of spring. However, the modern celebration of May Day in Finland began in the late 19th century, inspired by the international workers' movement. The holiday gained significance in 1890 when the Finnish labor movement organized its first demonstration in support of workers' rights. Over time, the holiday evolved to incorporate various traditions and customs, with students and other groups joining the festivities.


National customs for May Day in Finland

One of the most iconic national customs for May Day in Finland is the wearing of a white cap, known as a "ylioppilaslakki," by university students and graduates. This cap symbolizes academic achievement and is proudly worn during the festivities. In addition, May Day is a time for people to gather with friends and family to enjoy picnics, outdoor activities, and various events organized throughout the country.

Another popular tradition is the consumption of "sima," a homemade Finnish mead, and "tippaleipä," a deep-fried, funnel cake-like pastry. These treats are commonly enjoyed during May Day celebrations and are often accompanied by balloons and colorful streamers.

Local customs for May Day in Finland

May Day customs can vary from city to city in Finland. In Helsinki, the capital city, a statue of a female figure named Havis Amanda is ceremoniously crowned with a student cap by university students each year. This is followed by an evening of festivities and parties, with people gathering in the streets and parks to celebrate.

In Turku, another Finnish city, the celebration of May Day begins with a traditional event called "Walpurgis Night" on April 30th. The evening includes a procession of torch-bearing students and the declaration of spring by the city's mayor. The following day, a carnival-like atmosphere takes over the city, with various events, performances, and activities for people to enjoy.


May Day in Finland, or Vappu, is a vibrant and joyous celebration that brings communities together to welcome the arrival of spring and honor workers and students. With its rich history and diverse customs, May Day is a holiday that holds a special place in the hearts of Finns and represents a unique aspect of their cultural heritage.