5 fun ideas for a corona safe Vappu

Emergency finds the way”, as the Finnish say.

Vappu is no ordinary May Day celebration. Many nations observe the achievements of workers with Labour Day parades, public holidays, and maybe a few parties here and there. But in Finland, May Day (Vappu) is a festival matched only by Christmas and Midsummer in both revelry and cultural importance.

In pagan times, ancient Finns recognised May 1st as the beginning of spring, and welcomed the new season with a night of drinking, dancing and chasing away evil spirits with bonfires and music. In the 8th century, the event was rebranded as Walpurgis Night (Vappu) and became a Christian celebration of the canonisation of Saint Walburg. But Vappu’s pagan origins could not be ignored, and the event soon reverted to a celebration of seasons. Then, In the early 1900s, observance of workers rights was added to the Vappu party.

Today, the humble pagan party has mutated into a mass celebration of Finnish seasons and workers alike. It’s a time of delectable drinks, colourful hair, big balloons, outrageous outfits, nationwide parties, and vibrant parades.

So, what happens on Vappu? Helsinki students get the party started on April 30th by placing a traditional white graduation cap on the head of the famous Havis Amanda statue, before heading off to drink and dance the night away.

On May 1st, a hungover population enjoys picnics of mead and doughnuts in the park, while equally hungover students and workers fill city streets with loud, colourful processions. Imagine Mardi Gras in a colder climate, and you’ll get an idea of what Vappu is all about.


However, like a mother coming home early on a teenager’s Netflix and Chill night, the Coronavirus is set to dull the debauchery to a quiet and restrained affair. This year, we need to keep physical distance to keep ourselves safe and to hasten the end of the global pandemic.

Without processions, picnics, booze or boisterous crowds, this year’s Virtual Vappu will be an entirely different celebration. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun.

Read on to see how to make Virtual Vappu the best party of 2020.

1. Drink sima on Skype

There’s an art to making Sima, and a little help from our friends goes a long way to create the best flavours. We may not be able to invite our expert acquaintances over to mix fruit, sugar and yeast this year, but we can enjoy their creative input with the help of Facetime or Skype. And if you’re not in the mood for making Sima, you can always buy a store-bought bottle and join your friends for a digital drink.

2. Instagram picnics

We won’t be picnicking in the park, but we can always picnic on Instagram. After all, part of the fun of a Vappu picnic is taking glossy snaps of delicious homemade cuisine. Don’t let your talent go to waste this year, share your best dishes with the world and indulge yourself in some sweet tippaleipä.

3. Give your hat to your pet

There’ll be a lot of hatless statues this Vappu, so bring your pet in on the fun by placing the traditional Finnish graduation hat on their fluffy head. No pet? No problem. A stuffed animal looks just as stylish in white.

4. Hang up your coat, turn up the heat

It’s always disappointing when cold Finnish weather makes us hide our chic Vappu outfits under a bulky winter coat. Thankfully, this year we can model our summer clothes to the world on social media with the help of central heating and a firmly locked window.

5. Don't stop the party

Don’t despair; the Coronavirus has come at a high-tech time of easy communication. Now, with cloud video and conferencing platforms like Zoom, we can keep the party going without even leaving the house. So get dressed up, drink some sima and see how to throw the greatest virtual party here.

This year’s Vappu may be different to what we’re used to. But with the best technology at our fingertips and some good old Finnish Sisu, we can make Virtual Vappu an unforgettable spring spree.

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