Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day! Hyvää Vapunpäivää!

Here in Finland, May 1st is a BIG day. It is probably THE day that Finns look forward to the most.

Vappu or Vapunpäivä as it is known here, is a mix between May Day celebrations and also Labour Day.

Those that have earnt a students graduation cap from Lukio (sixth form college/university) (no matter how far back that was), wear it on this day. Many of them get drunk and do a lot of loud celebrating!

I found the two images above at an old but interesting blog about a trip in 2005 to Finland by a couple of Americans. HERE

Down south in Helsinki there are annual parties for St Walpurgas - originally a Pagan event meaning Witches night. Celebrated either late on the evening of April 30th or during the day of the 1st of May, it happens in several countries in Europe apparently, especially Germany. Saint Walpurga was honoured on the same day that Vikings had celebrated spring, so the two are now entertwined.

The Viking day remembers the time when Odin died whilst retrieving the knowledge of the runes and the night is said to be similar to Halloween.. when there is said to be only a thin veil between the energies of the living and the dead. Bonfires are lit to keep away unhappy spirits. This is followed by the return of the light and the sun is celebrated during May Day - people go out and have a picnic outside (whilst they can and no mosquitoes about!).

On top of all that it is a socialist day.. Labour Day.. and the day of Vappu was taken on some years back as the day to go out, march and make speeches. These days it has become a day off and NO-ONE works if they can help it!

In Helsinki and surrounding areas it has become more of a student event for frivolities.. There is a bronze statue of a woman (the Havis Amanda) that someone must climb and put their student cap on ... its the only stitch of clothing she wears all year! LOL Its an annual event now. In fact, they now hoist up a group of students up and around it.. all hanging under an umbrella in the shape of a huge students hat.. it's become the in thing to go and witness.

Naturally, it is a flag day too!

We have a special drink called Sima which is a largely non alcoholic or very low in alcohol lemon based drink. You can either make it totally by hand..(adding raisins to the mix) or you can buy a kit in the shops.. or ready made bottles. For a Sima recipe see the Easter blog 2009: HERE If you drink it as soon as the raisins float to the surface, it's fine even for the youngest child as well! However, if left longer Sima will ferment and become a little intoxicating. I heard from my son that you cant buy the bottles of Sima in the shop if you are under 18, but I dont know if that is really true or not as the percentage is only 0.8%!

Marli is my favourite brand of Sima!

Although the packet mixes are not unwelcome either! :D Handy for other times of the year when you can't buy the bottled Sima in the shops!

There are also funny little fritter doughnut-ish cakes called Tippaleipä for this day. Freshly made, they are very nice but shop bought ones are quite firm (read: rock hard) and are difficult to eat with any finesse. They look to me like a load of worms all fried together! (Sorry!)

Here is a recipe if you want to try making them:


2 eggs
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Icing sugar/confectioners sugar
Frying oil


Gently mix the eggs and sugar together, then add the other ingredients. Stir into a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into a piping bag with a small holed nozzle. Squeeze the batter out into the hot oil, making a spiral motion the aim is to make a nest of wiggles! You can if you have one use a metal ring in the oil to shape them better.

Remove and drain on paper towels when they have turned a golden brown colour. When cool, you can dust them with icing sugar.

I've not done anything today.. I have just stayed in.. and enjoying the day off! Mark and I have been in the kitchen together, making hummus and steaming garlic chicken to have with boiled potatoes and salad. It is just nice now to eat an evening meal in the light! :D Plus, it has been a gloriously sunny day today too! Wonderful!

Dare I say, that Spring is here and Summer is a coming?????


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