Every year on April 30 and May 1, Finland goes wild as people celebrate May Day. Our photographers roamed the Finnish capital to capture the spirit of the holiday in a slideshow.
May 1 is Labour Day in many countries, including Finland. However, the Finns also see it as a chance to celebrate the arrival of spring, and numerous festive student traditions are also associated with the date. In fact, just about everyone gets in on the action – May Day and the preceding evening represent the biggest party of the year. People dust off their white, secondary-school graduation caps and wear them around town, and the parks are filled with picnicking partiers of all ages.
First of May frolic
Every year on April 30 in a long-held tradition, a crane lifts a group of university students so they can place a graduation cap upon the head of Havis Amanda, a landmark statue in the Finnish capital (visible beneath the crane baskets at the centre of the picture).Photo: Susanna Alatalo
On May Day and during the week leading up to it, various student groups wear customised overalls to protect their clothes – and themselves – from the wear and tear of a long stretch of partying.Photo: Leena Karppinen
Don’t get mad, get angry! An Angry Bird bobs up and down with other balloons in a vendor’s bundle.Photo: Leena Karppinen
Picnic pompom: Finns of all ages get into the festive spirit on May Day.Photo: Leena Karppinen
A clown creates balloon figures in front of Helsinki Cathedral.Photo: Leena Karppinen
Because of its association with the labour movement, May 1 is also a day for parades and political speeches.Photo: Leena Karppinen
What picnic would be complete without music and dancing?Photo: Leena Karppinen
Cheers! It’s May 1 and the sun is shining!Photo: Leena Karppinen
Balloons and bubbly: Kaivopuisto, a large seaside park in Helsinki, is blanketed with party-minded picnickers on May 1. Foto: Leena Karppinen
The art of the Finnish May Day picnic may include a tent complete with tables, chairs and a many-course meal, for those who are not satisfied with a mere blanket on the ground.Photo: Leena Karppinen
Photos by Leena Karppinen and Susanna Alatalo
Text by Peter Marten