Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy Vappu!!!

Vappu is the springtime celebration known worldwide as May Day, but to the Finns it's "Vappu". Traditionally this day has been a day of celebrations for the working classes and students, but really, everyone can join in on the fun. Vappu marks the end of a long winter and the coming of summer!

I never celebrated May Day until I lived in Finland. Since then, the first of May has always been a day to remember. Unfortunately there will be no partying in the streets for me, lest I look like a crazy person who has escaped the loony bin. And I won't be highly intoxicated for 3 days straight. No, instead I'll be eating cake and enjoying the beautiful weather with my little one. Maybe next year I'll be celebrating Vappu in true Finnish styles.

I knew Vappu was a big deal in Finland, but I didn't know how much of a big deal it was until I experienced it for myself. The streets of Helsinki are literally filled with people. Everywhere you look and go, it's wall to wall of people. The atmosphere is loud and full of excitement. There's lots of singing, shouting, music, dancing...and lots and lots of drinking. It is said that Vappu without drinking is like Christmas without presents. I had a friend who's mission was to be drunk for the entire weekend of Vappu. He succeeded. I can't say I remember much of my first Vappu either, but I do remember the general feeling, the bountiful supply of alcoholic beverages, the hundreds of thousands of people filling the entire city centre and trains, and the sea of white student caps and multi-coloured overalls. I don't remember the significance of the caps or the overalls, but I do remember that a cap had eventually made its way onto my head by the end of the day and sometime during that weekend I did end up wearing red overalls in some bar.

Anyhoo, I took the above photo when my friends and I had (finally!!) made it to the Helsinki Cathedral on Unioninkatu. My flatmates and I had frequented the Cathedral area a lot cause one of my flatmates, Drifa, was working at a cafe across the street from the Cathedral at the time. Man, I miss Cafe Engel and the nights when she would bring home bags and bags of ciabata bread and sweet rolls! The Cathedral is huge and has a million stairs leading up to it and the area in front is quite vast. On Vappu I couldn't even see a speck of concrete anywhere! It was pure madness!

Below is a photo of me and my friend Katherine, who went to Finland with me (and is my partner in crime in soooo many things). This was taken just outside the train station. We thought we had prepared ourselves for this day and the mobs of people we would encounter. We just didn't think it would be like this!! We had to run up a ramp into a parkade in order to take in what was happening on the streets. Right as this photo was being taken, a semi-truck outfitted with a flat bed was slowly passing by. We called it the party truck, cause it was decked out with a DJ spinning some tunes on turn tables, speakers on top of speakers, and every inch of space leftover was crowded with people.

Ha! I'm oh so classy here...holding onto a bottle of cheap champagne and a bag of chips!

I hope everyone is enjoying the first of May! Get out and enjoy the sun!!


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