Last week, BBC World Talking Point asked if 1 May was still international Labour Day. Not in England. 1 May is a public holiday. Everything significant in England is celebrated by a public holiday. On Good Friday, continental Europeans commemorate that Christ was crucified and died to absolve our sins and give us eternal salvation. Ask anyone in England – Good Friday is a public holiday.
And not in Finland. 1 May is Vappu.
Vappu celebrates… nothing in particular really. It has no local historical roots. It’s a combination of Walpurgisnacht imported from Germany, International Workers Day imported from France, and various fertility festivals imported from around Scandinavia – read more here.
It starts with the overalls. Every university faculty has a different colour – white overalls, blue overalls, purple overalls, black overalls. The week before Vappu, you start to see students wandering around town wearing overalls.
Wandering around town, not always completely upright. The drinking is unbelievable. Absolutely off their face, out of their tree. I have seen drinking to excess, but I have never seen anything like this. Groups unsteady and swaying, falling over, collapsing out of cars and taxis, sleeping by the side of the road.
A Finnish friend married to an American said that she didn’t really feel as if she knew her husband until they got Finnish drunk together. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well there’s American drunk”, she said, “slurring your words, finding it difficult to focus, finding it difficult to stand. And then there’s Finnish drunk, when you pass out”.
Read the whole story on the site here.