Marja-Leena Rathje
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Vappu and May Day


Ah, it's May Eve, as Helsingin Sanomat reminds me. Almost anywhere else on the planet this would not be so very significant, but in Finland it means "Vappu", a kind of Finnish "Mardi Gras meets the Rite of Spring", with some historical political overtones and a strong youth and student flavouring. With the time difference, the party has been underway for awhile and will carry on into May Day tomorrow.

Since I wrote a year ago about this celebration with its pagan origins, please go read that if you missed it. Wikipedia has more on May Day, including Vappu and its origin in Walpurgisnacht. I wonder why we don't have any May Day celebrations in western Canada, a little pagan fun might be what the doctor ordered as antidote to our depressing politics, hmm? Maybe something like these dancers in Norfolk?

So, dear Finnish readers, Hauskaa Vappua! and a Happy May Day to English readers! I wonder if Walpurgisnacht is still celebrated in Germany, if so, have fun!?

Addendum May 1st:
As some of the links in my post of a year ago don't work anymore, it was neat to come across a recipe for the traditional Vappu treat tippaleipä at Axis for Ævil. (Literally translated it is drip bread.) I remember my mother's were much thinner than in the photo and we ate them fresh. (I really should make some after all this but I don't like deep frying - memories suffice!)

And at Chocolate & Zucchini I learn that in France it is Labour Day, and that "May 1 is also La Fête du Muguet, and the tradition is to give the ones you love a little bouquet of lily-of-the-valley, for good luck and to celebrate the arrival of spring." I'm going out to pick some lily of the valley from my garden right now!

Marja-Leena | 30/04/2005 | 3 comments
themes: Culture, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric


It's my sister's birthday today and every year I tease her by calling to wish her Happy Walpurgisnacht.

I bet she loves it! I remember your great post on Walpurgisnacht last year on your former blog. I've not been able to find that link again, do you have it in your bookmarks, perchance, Amy?

I have been so laggardly in reading my blogroll - now I have missed wishing you a happy pagan festival. Isn't the millennium the dawning of the pagan age - of Aquarius? You can tell what I've been reading. Anyway, my best wishes.

As to the Norfolk Morris Dancers - how amazing are the nuances of local knowledge. To the average Britisher this would be a highly amusing, and very prosaic occasion because it takes place in Lynn. Norfolk is a place much mocked as being backward, lumpen, flat and subject to in-breeding - and the Morris are also ridiculed in some quarters; the combination of the two would provide irresistible home-grown comedy material. Especially the traffic island!