Tomorrow night, for the 45th time, the hill Vartiovuori in the Finnish city of Turku will be crowded with thousands of people carrying with them white caps, balloons and glasses, *ahem* bottles, of sparkling wine. There’ll be students carrying and guarding flags and an all-male choir singing. The whole thing will also be broadcasted on national television.
Why, you may ask? Well, it’s Valpurgis night going on May Day! For all Finland-Swedish students and fellow men alike, this means that it’s time to celebrate the coming of spring. Ranked as one of the 4 major Finnish celebrations, together with Christmas, Easter and Midsummer, this sure is a big deal. Especially for students 🙂 In every corner of the country, there are different types of celebrations going on, and the above mentioned one is just one example, and only really a small part of the festivities!
Now, a quick history lesson! This celebration travelled from Sweden to Finland in the 19th century. The name Valpurgis night comes from the English missionary Saint Walpurga. So yes, just like Christmas, this celebration is really a heathen tradition turned Christian. But today you can see that it’s going back to its roots! The Finland-Swedes, however, simply call this day Vappen after the Finnish name Vappu, because Valborgsmässoafton is way too long.
So, to really get what the hell I’m babbling on about, watch this clip and take part in the celebrations!
If your attention span is as short as the average goldfish’s, tune in at 3:10 for the traditional student song, and you’ll get the gist of it! Oh, and an explanation for the white caps: you get one when graduating high school and then you use it for festive student celebrations like this!
Happy Valpurgis night, or Glada Vappen, to one and all!