Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Finland Series at FinnishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Finnish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3, May Day. In Finnish, it’s called vappu.
In Finland, May Day is a holiday held in celebration of the working class and students, but at the same time it is also a national holiday and a celebration of spring. The actual May Day is on May 1, but most years, the celebrations begin on April 30, which is known as May Day Eve or vappuaatto. In this lesson, we will take a closer look at some of the fun traditions related to May Day in Finland.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Do you know how overalls are related to Finnish students' celebrations of May Day?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Since the 1920s, Finnish students have traditionally begun their May Day celebrations on the night of April 30th, despite the fact that May Day is actually recognized on May 1st. This has led most people to lump both days together when referring to “May Day”. The most famous event of May Day is the decoration of the Havis Amanda statue in Helsinki with a cap. This statue, which was designed by the sculptor Ville Vallgren, is adorned by students with a Finnish graduation cap, precisely at 6 PM on April 30. From this moment, May Day is considered to have officially started. This tradition has been going on for nearly a century.
On May Day, those who have graduated from high school wear a white hat, or valkolakki, and those who are also admitted to the University of Technology will wear a technology student cap, which is also white, but with a pom pom. Many students choose to decorate themselves with paper streamers, or serpentiini and masks, and May Day whisks and balloons, or ilmapallo, can be seen all over the streets. Balloons in the shapes of cartoon characters are especially popular with children.
The May Day program includes a traditional May Day picnic, or vappupiknik. The most famous May Day picnic takes place in Kaivopuisto, a park in Helsinki, where people gather early in the morning with their drinks and food. Some also bring furniture, blankets and musical instruments. The student union's singers and the tech students' orchestra also performs in the park, and the representatives of student unions give speeches. Sparkling wine, homemade mead, doughnuts, funnel cakes, wieners, and herrings are all widely enjoyed while people watch traditional May Day marches and speeches.
May Day is also reflected on the map of Finland in the places and roads named after the keywords associated with May Day, including Vappu meaning “May Day”, Ylioppilastie or “student road” and Serpentiinitie or “paper streamer road.”
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know how overalls are related to Finnish students' celebrations of May Day?
The weather on May Day varies between heat and sleet. In response, students have started to wear overalls representing the colors of their fraternities, to combat the unpredictable weather. This tradition was adopted from Sweden, and it was brought to Finland in the 1970s by tech students.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is spring celebrated in a similar way to May Day in your country?
Leave us a comment at FinnishPod101.com, and see you in the next class!