View Full Version : May Day - May 1st

June Pelo
01-05-06, 20:50
May Day was originally the festival of the Catholic saint Walpurgis, whose celebration was mixed in the north with aspects of the Germanic spring festival. It was designated a workers' festival at the Congress of Paris of 1889. In Finland, May day has been a workers' festival only since 1902. Students in their white caps visit the graves of soldiers killed during the Second World War on the eve of May Day; the dead of both sides of the Civil War of 1918 are also commemorated. Since 1932 students have also set a white cap on the statue of Havis Amanda, which is located at the edge of the main market square in Helsinki. This takes place at 6 p.m. and is considered the official beginning of the celebrations. May Day is spent on the streets and lunch is generally eaten in a restaurant, with salty Baltic herring playing an essential part of the meal.

Finland, A Cultural Encyclopedia


02-05-06, 02:41
Hyvä Vappu!

I remember the one May Day I spent in Finland in 1973. I took a year off from university in the US to go work and live there. In May I was working at a baari on Mannerheimintie in Helsinki. I declare the parade came through our doors and back out onto the street. What a wonderful throng. Sorry I missed the best of it. Much too busy washing a million coffee cups! (I certainly did enjoy Vappun aatto, though)


02-05-06, 05:48
There are many websites discussing Walpurgis, Vappu, etc. This post discusses her "genealogy".

"Saint Walpurgis", or Walburga, (aka Bugga, Gaudurge, Vaubourg, Walpurga) (710-779), was a Benedictine abbess and saint, whose main feast day is February 25.

Besides her, you might also try Googling "Waldborg", a pre-Christian Germanic fertility goddess; and "Waluburg", a 2nd century legendary Germanic seeress.

Association of May 1 with Saint Walpurgis apparently came about because of the delivery to Eichstätt (1 May 870) of what were believed to be her bones. The memory of Waldborg and/or Waluburg also helped to make May 1, Walpurgis Day.



(longer bio)

Since this is a genealogical forum, I thought her genealogy (from her father "king Richard" of Wessex - also a "saint") would be appropriate. However, "king Rich" (d. 722, Lucca, Italy, while on pilgrimage) wasn't known as such until the 11th century.


Old "Rich" is not in the list of Wessex kings


The timeframe was that of Ine of Wessex (r. 688-726; died in Rome ca. 728, without known issue), whose code of laws were recorded.


The accepted genealogy of Wessex's kings begins with Egburt (ca.770-July 839), grandfather of Alfred the Great.


Walburgis' mother was supposedly Winna, sister of St. Boniface, "Apostle of Germany". Since his parents are unknown, our quest for Walburgis' ancestors must end.

However, all is not bleak - since we know that Sinebrychoff Porter does exist - and it, like me, has some Irish genes (Guiness, in its case):


Or, can I offer you a cup of Koff (ee) ?


Happy hangovers, Helsinki folks. Still 1¼ hours of May 1 left in USAian land.


30-04-07, 11:15
The 1st of May is on its way... The day of Valborg or Vappu in Finnish.

On the morning of May 1st the students have gathered since the Russian times in the Kajsaniemi/Kaisaniemi park in the center of Helsingfors/Helsinki. Student choirs perform, people bring their picknic baskets... Some bring their own tables and often have their "reserved spots" every year where they gather to greet Spring with a glass sparkling or two.. Most people have their student caps on - the only day in the year it is worn!

Helsinki.fi (http://www.virtualhelsinki.net/helsinkipanoraama/historia/eng/kaisaniemi.html) writes:

In 1827 Catharina "Kaisa" Wahllund started a coffee buffet in the park. This was such a big success that she decided to establish her own restaurant. The new restaurant also achieved popularity and its customers included many influential 19th century figures.
The university tradition of ushering in the spring with student songs, which can be traced back to the Turku Academy, was revived in the park. After the Russian tsar banned May Day festivities, students began to celebrate the 1st of May as Kaisa's birthday. They sang to Kaisa and this tradition continues to this day. The park is named after Kaisa Wahllund.

The Finnish and Swedish versions of the page add some extra text, but this addition is for some reason left out from the English page:

Kaisalle laulettiin ja vanha perinne jatkuu vielä nykyisinkin. Suuren kieliriidan seurauksena ylioppilaslaulajat erosivat toisistaan, ja suomenkieliset siirtyivät ottamaan vappua vastaan ensin Alppilan ravintolaan ja hieman myöhemmin Ullanlinnaan. Ruotsinkieliset ylioppilaat kokoontuvat yhä edelleen Kaisaniemen puistoon viettämään vappujuhlaansa...

Kajsa blev besjungen och traditionen lever än i dag. Efter en stor språkstrid skildes studentsångarna åt och de finska studenterna började fira dagen först på restaurang Alppila, sedan i Ulrikasborg. De svenska studenterna firar fortfarande första maj i Kajsaniemi...

The extra information in the Finnish and wedish pages add:

After a big language feud the Finnish speaking students no more gather at Kajsaniemi but nowadays celebrate the coming of Spring at Ullanlinna/Ulrikasborg, ie. the Observatory hill in Helsingfors. The Swedish-speaking students still gather at Kajsaniemi.

But people will have a very, very chilly first of May tomorrow, regardless of where in Helsingfors they gather. Best to stay at home in the warm.

30-04-07, 17:56
As children we used to go together out into the nature seeking for a warm place, usually on a stone in a sunny place. We brought our "Mjöd" and "Struvor" (some kind of cakes) and enjoyed the wormth of the sun.

This was called the "Majlindo" or "Majkalas".

Even now as grown up we try to take our family to some special places, for example our summer camp and do some garden works out there on the 1st of May. Just to feel that we have summer ahead.


Teta Åberg
01-05-07, 21:54
I just cant imagine that Hasse could have been staying indoors today:
It wasn't exactly warm today - but it was sunny!
We have had a wonderful day meeting old friends and family, children and grandchildren in Kajsaniemi ... a celebration of spring with all traditional ingredients: choir singing, mjöd, sparkling wine, balloons, sunshine and laughter!

01-05-07, 22:22
Yes and no. One couldn't stay inside today - but Kajsaniemi at 9:00 wasn't too appealing this morning.

It was a really sunny day - but with a cold, cold wind from north.

This time we listened to the Akademen choir at home from the radio. Only our student girls upheld the tradition and were at Kajsaniemi with their friends.

But nevertheless - Glada Vappen på er alla. Ännu hinner man ta en liten skumppa...

June Pelo
01-05-07, 22:23
Hi Teta,

It's good to see your name again. It's been a long time since we've heard from you. Happy May 1st!

June :)

02-05-07, 14:20
Today it is true, as Hasse wrote that the 1st of may is the only day you keep your student's hat on. But I remember from my childhood in Åbo in the -50ies, that the student kept their hats on all of May and all of September when they returned after their summer vacation.

When I studied at Åbo Akademi in the late -60ies and early 70ies we used our hat only on May 1st. And then we put it on again on the last Saturday of September when we celebrated the "Taking off the Hats". At 12 pm we turned our hats inside out.