Mayday, mayday: Things get crazy in Finland around May 1

It wouldn’t be a lie simply to say that Finnish people celebrate May Day, but it wouldn’t be the whole truth, either. They really let loose, and we’ve got it on video.

Known as Vappu in Finnish and Valborg in Swedish (also an official language in Finland), the May 1 Labour Day holiday actually gets going on April 30. And it can get pretty crazy.

For most people, May Day no longer has much to do with its origins, which are about honouring workers. It’s more like somebody transplanted New Year’s celebrations four months forward, linking them to the spring season so people could party outdoors. The weather might even be warm.

In case you’re wondering why everyone is walking around with a white hat on, those are Finnish high-school graduation caps, and it’s a May Day tradition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, university students lead the charge when it comes to Vappu partying, with those from polytechnic institutes at the vanguard.

Happy First of May! Hauskaa Vappua! Klara Vappen!
Video: Finland 100

By Peter Marten, April 2018