Thursday, May 03, 2007

Happy Vappu!

Tuesday May 1 was a national holiday in Finland. May 1 is their Labor Day called Vappu (celebrated in early September in the USA). On Monday, we joined Jenni, Elena, and Reija from FMI and went to the central outdoor market area (Kauppatori) in the evening to see the Havis Amanda statue be topped with a student cap. This old tradition has become modernized when the authorities didn't want people climbing on the statue. So, now a crane lowers students down, a firehose cleans the statue (and the students, too), and the cap is placed on the top. Many of the Finns in the crowd pull out their white and black student hats (look like Skipper caps) and confetti rains down on the people who pop champagne bottles.

The smoke in the picture of the statue with the student cap on is coming from a portable wood-fired sauna that someone brought to the market. A small brass band played songs from atop a truck. What was cute was that even old couples in their 60s still had their caps. The older the caps, the more yellow they get from age (and champagne spray over the years).

On Tuesday morning, we went to the park (Kaivopuisto) and had a traditional picnic with thousands of other Finnish-speaking Finns. (Turns out the Swedis-speaking Finns go to a different park in a different part of town.) The weather was quite sunny, albeit a bit cool. Still a fine day to be out.


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