If you find yourself in Finland
on the evening of April 30th or on May 1st, you must be aware of the following information. Today is Vappu.
Also known as Walpurgis Night, Vappu is a traditional holiday in Finland, and there are a number of unique social customs and dress you must be aware of in order to avoid embarrassment and ridicule.
At it's core, Vappu is about drinking. This is not normal drinking. This is Finnish Drinking.
But this is not about the common aspects of the celebration. This is about the unique and sometimes confusing traditions of this national holiday.
First and foremost, there is the traditional student cap.
This hat is worn by graduates, both young
Not just for cranial warmth or academic reward, this hat is used in a wide variety of social displays.
The most famuous takes place in Helsinki
, where he statue of Havis Amanda
is capped by a team of local students.
This tradition spreads to many
In addition to traditional hats, students also wear a traditional drinking uniform. These overalls are a relatively recent adoption by Finnish students.
Before 1970, the traditional drinking outfit for university students was the Spyfrack
, or "Vomit Frock". This was typically a decorative coat purchased from a local thrift shop.
In the Early 70's, students from the Royal University of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden began to wear their labwear and overalls in social situations. It turns out that in their mad rush to begin drinking, they simply neglected to change into normal clothing.
However, more than just convenient, they discovered that these overalls were resistent to drinking related wear and tear.
This trend rapidly caught on and replaced the less robust Spyfrack.
In 1979, The University of Technology in Espoo
hosted a student from the Royal University. Finnish students were so intrigued by his choice of drinking-wear that they began to borrow overalls from the local power company for their school trips to Germany in 1980 and 1982. This rapidly caught on, and in 1982 and 1983 schools began to formally adopt colored overalls as the official drinking uniform.
It is important to note that these are not simply protective outfits.
Each color corresponds to an individual professionor major. While there seems to be a commonly
accepted set of color
definitions, there are a wide variety of subtle variants.
More importantly, these coveralls
with a variety of patches
, and other markings
But Vappu is more than just an excuse to drink until you cannot drink anymore.
There is a traditional drink, Sima
. It is basically a homemade
mead, naturally carbonated with yeast.
You can also eat Tippaleivät
. These are similiar to the German Schneeballen
or for those more familiar, like a crunchy Funnel Cake
But it isn't just drinking, overalls, hats, mead and fried desserts.
You have your choice of Humorous Magazines, published on Vappu and sold on any city street in Helsinki. Each magazine is published by the students of the Helsinki University of Technology
is published for even years, and Äpy
is published during the odd ones.
For additional reading, I would suggest -
More Coverall Analysis
Jolly Dragon Vappu Thread
Caveat - I am an American in Finland and a lot of this information is non-obvious. I think I have pieced together a proper portrayal of the holiday with this information, but it is possible I have crosslinked something in swedish or misunderstood a translation. If you come to harm because of any of these mistakes, I apologize profusely.