Today in Finland, Walpurgis Night (Vapunaatto) is, along with New Year's Eve, the biggest carnival-style festivity that takes place in the streets of Finland's towns and cities. The celebration is typically centered on plentiful use of sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages.
The student traditions are also one of the main characteristics of "Vappu". From the end of the 19th century, "Fin de Siècle", and onwards, this traditional upper class feast has been co-opted by students attending university, already having received their student cap. Many people who have graduated from lukio wear the cap. One tradition is drinking mead, whose alcohol content varies. Fixtures include the capping of the Havis Amanda, a nude female statue in Helsinki, and the biannually alternating publications of ribald matter called Äpy and Julkku.
Both are sophomoric; but while Julkku is a standard magazine, Äpy is always a gimmick. Classic forms have included an Äpy printed on a toilet-roll and a bedsheet. Often the magazine has been stuffed inside standard industrial packages such as sardine-cans and milk cartons. The festivities also include a picnic on May 1st, which is sometimes prepared in a lavish manner.
The Finnish tradition is also a shadowing of the Soviet Era May Day parade. Starting with the parties of the left, the whole of the Finnish political scene has nominated Vappu as the day to go out on stumps and agitate.
This does not only include right-wing parties, but also others like the church have followed suit, marching and making speeches. In Sweden it is only the labour and socialist parties which use May 1 for political activities, while others observe the traditional festivities.
The labourers who were active in the 1970's still party on the first of May. They arrange carnivals and the radio plays their old songs that workers liked to listen to. The labour spirit lies most in the capital of Finland, Helsinki.
The First of May is also a day for everything fun and crazy: children and families gather to market places to celebrate often the first day of the spring and the coming summer. There are balloons and joy, people drink their first beers outside, there are clowns and masks and a lot of fun. The first of May includes colourful streamers, funny and silly things and sun. The first of May means the beginning of the spring for many people in Finland.
Traditionally May 1st is celebrated by a picnic in a park (Kaivopuisto in case of Helsinki). For most, the picnic is enjoyed with friends on blanket with good food and sparkling wine. Some people, however, arrange extremely lavish picnics with pavillions, white table cloths, silver candelabras, classical music and lavish food.
The picnic usually starts early in the morning, and some hard-core party goers continue the celebrations of the previous evening without sleeping in between. Some Student organizations have traditional areas where they camp every year and they usually send someone to reserve the spot early one. As with other Vappu traditions, the picnic includes student caps, mead, streamers and balloons.