Saturday, May 30, 2015

May Day!! May Day!!

Vappu - May Day

Vappu or May day is one of the biggest holidays in Finland, celebrating the beginning of spring and the end of the school year (although there is still a month of school left) and is also the Finnish Labor Day!  Read more about Vappu!

The celebration begins the night before - April 30 with rather riotous celebrations in public squares, parks and private parties.  We had our own Vappu eve party with the YSA at the institute center in Helsinki.

The next day celebrating continues with picnicking and playing in the public parks.  We had a YSA picnic in Kaivopuisto (conveniently close to our apartment), which was densely packed with revelers from throughout Helsinki.  Contrary to what we had been lead to believe the celebrations were orderly and even family oriented in many instances.  Below are some pictures of the celebration in Kaivopuisto.
Elina is one of our YSA.  She has a bubbly personality and is always fun to be around!
Notice the yellow jumpsuit in the background on the right.  Many college students
wear these beginning a few days before the end of April.  More about them later.
There was even a brass band with some of the performers on top of an antique fire truck.  The white caps are given to students who matriculate from high school. They would relate to the mortar board that we all wore at our high school graduation.  They are quite treasured and people of all ages will wear them at the Vappu celebrations.

This crowd extends all the way down the hill and onto the flat below.  Different groups had tables or tents set up, where they gathered throughout the day.

In addition to the white caps some people wore interesting costumes as this gentlemen in top hat and tails.

At the bottom left of this picture you can see some of the jump suits that are worn by college students - each college and department has its own color scheme.  As they participate in events throughout the year they will collect patches and put them on their overalls.  This was the only time we have seen people wearing these overalls, although they probably wear them to events + sporting events, concerts, etc. throughout the year.

This was a very formally dressed group near the top of the hill.  We saw many groups
and individuals with open bottles of champagne and crystal goblets. 

There was even some dancing, although not many people

Kaviopuisto has a really neat playground.  We have made several contacts here on our walks in the park.

Some of our YSA enjoying the picnic.

Other Signs of Spring

It's springtime and so we have had several marriages among the YSA.  Samuel and Päivi were married in the Helsinki Temple the day after our Vappu celebration.  They both returned from missions while we have been here, and were actually engaged before they left on their missions.  Happily, no "Dear John" or "Dear Jane" for either of them!  They are a lovely couple

Arianna and Rasmus announced their engagement on Vappu.  Arianna is from West Virginia.  She has been working as an au pair, and Rasmus recently returned from his mission in England.  They will be married in the Helsinki Temple in August.

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