Friday, November 1, 2013

Finland, May Day

The first of May every year is celebrated as Walpurgis Night by many religious people throughout most of Europe. It is a very important day, religiously, for a lot of different belief systems including pagan ones, Satanism and also some Roman Catholics as well. But all around the world it is better known as May Day.

May Day History

The festival is actually named after the Saint Walpurga who was born in the city of Devon in the year 710 AD. It was celebrated as the day that was associated with spring and the bounties that the season offers to the people and was originally a pagan festival, but after Christianity came into the picture the date was changed to the 1st of May and the Festival was renamed May Day, although in some places like Finland, it is considered that the day that is to be mainly celebrated is the day that falls before May Day, May Day Eve. It was celebrated by the pagans by lighting bonfires and marked by dancing and singing to scare off or rather ward off any evil spirits that inhabited an area. This was followed by the ceremony which marked the return of light with the morning sun the next day.

The day is so named so as to commemorate the death of Saint Walpurga, who died while moving the mortal remains of her brother to his final resting place. Thus she was moved next to him in the place where they keep her remains to date. She was moved on the first of May and hence May Day has come to be known as Walpurgis Day in the Finnish calendars.

May Day Traditions and Activities

Nowadays, the Night of Walpurgis is considered the biggest carnival style festival of the year and is celebrated by almost every person in the country. The streets of many cities in the country are usually filled with parades, carnival style entertainment booths, and are generally marked with flowing wine and beer-in-plenty. People from all over the world come to the country just to get a taste of what it is like to be part of one of the oldest and most fun celebrations and traditions in the world.

Generally, the First of May holiday is celebrated with a picnic in a park or garden which is characterized by the presence of a number of friends, a lavishly prepared and sumptuous meal and a large amount of wine, all enjoyed while relaxing in the spring weather on a blanket on the ground. However, a few people are known to organize extremely large and extravagant meals and picnics which include gourmet meals, the best chinaware, music and service that rival a five star restaurant. These picnics usually start in the evening around sundown and some of them stretch even till the wee hours of next morning.

Thus it is clear to see that the celebration of the festival is very important to Finnish people since it part of their culture and identity and also it not only vastly boasts the tourism in the area but also provides fun and joy to the millions of people around the country.


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