First of May – Vappu in Finland (#34/100)

Vappu is here!

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

And how do we know ”Vappu”, our First of May is getting closer? It’s raining cats & dogs and snow in all of it’s forms one can find….

Rime (kuura), frost (härmä) and little cute snow flakes (hiutale), no no no, but sleet (räntä), slush (sohjo) and real flurry (mylläkkä) are more like it. That’s when it’s finally spring and Finnish Vappu. If we Finns were sensible, we would stay indoors, have a cup of coffee or a shot of strong liqueur or two in the village bar, but no such rational behaviour is detected in the streets and marketplaces of Finland 100 years.

Finns dig out the open-tops, the convertibles from the naphthalene, put on the white matriculation caps from year zero, all yellow today, and take the nice ride in the fresh outdoors with the family or friends. Fresh, meaning +5 degrees Celcius, if we are lucky. Then off to buy the balloons for the children (25 euros each), the must-eat sugary, extremely fatty donuts and have them – also in the fresh air – picnicing on the lawn (which is brown still many weeks to come…). Then when the sun peaks behind the heavy clouds hanging low, the gloomy faces turn to smiles: it’s Vappu!

(There’s plenty of weeks to cure the spring cold before Midsummer, The Juhannus, when this same thing is repeated without the caps and the balloons. Even the weather is the same.)

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