You might have heard about the biggest students’ celebration that is occurring in the beginning of next week: vappu – or vappen/wappen as the Swedish-speaking Finns say. There is a great blog post about Vappen that you can read on TYS web page. However, some of the traditions and celebrations vary between students from Turun Yliopisto and students from Åbo Akademi. The differences were addressed briefly in the afore-mentioned blog post, but here you can get the guide to what we ÅA-students call “Åbo-vappen”!
The main event of vappen is on 30th of April and 1st of May – but many students start the celebrations several days earlier and many of the students’ associations have organized different events and activities for their members during the week. That is probably why you’ve been seeing overalls all over the city and especially in the campus area during the last week.
30th of April
The very first traditional Åbo-vappen celebration takes place on the stairs of the Turku cathedral when the date changes from the 29th to the 30th of April. This is when the vappen-publication Errores St:ae Valpurgis is first revealed for the public. There will be a short speech and then the publication will be handed out to students during the night and all through Vappen. The publication is filled with goofy pictures and stories and has been an annual tradition for more than eighty years.
Then, on 30th of April at about 13:00 the traditional “Wapprodd” takes place in the Aura river. The rowing competition is an old tradition where different students’ associations compete to win the oar, a challenge prize. There are students’ associations from both Turun Yliopisto and Åbo Akademi University competing to win the prestigious prize and usually YLE is filming the event, so you might end up on Finnish television for a brief moment. When attending the “Wapprodd” it is common to wear your students overall.
After “Wapprodden” students often gather around with their friends and head somewhere to change clothes and eat before heading to Vårdberget (the Observatory Hill). One of the more interesting contrasts between the Finnish Vappu and Finnish-Swedish Vappen is that students from TY are wearing their overalls while ÅAU students dress up formally for the event. The official ceremony starts at 18:00 but make sure you find yourself at Vårdberget in time – there will be a lot of people around!
The most important part of the evening is when the chairperson of ÅAS (the student union) pronounces a speech. Then, on the signal of the chairperson everyone with a students’ cap will put them on simultaneously. Suddenly, all of Vårdberget will be a sea of white caps!
This is the moment when you pop open a bottle of sparkling wine (if you’re into that kind of thing) with your friends and celebrate that spring finally is here. Some people stay at Vårdberget for a longer time and celebrate, others will go to Kåren for Wappen dinner, a more formal sitz together with ÅA-students. Many students also organize their own Wappen dinners or hangarounds before heading out to celebrate into the night.
1st of May
The main event during this day is the Vappen picnic at the Observatory hill. Vårdbergsparken is filled with tired but happy students in overalls eating and drinking. Some will be sleeping and napping together in big bunches, some drinking sparkling wine and enjoying the sun (if the weather is nice, that is) and the people around them. Usually students spend their whole day on the picnic. Remember to bring something to eat and something to sit on – the ground is usually quite humid.
Now you should be ready to celebrate Åbo-vappen! Make sure to enjoy, Vappen is said to be the best time of the students year!