First of May celebrated in cool but sunny conditions
Police nationwide were kept busy by alcohol-fuelled revellers
Finland’s First of May holiday got off to a rousing start already on Monday evening, April 30th, when students of the Sibelius Academy had the honour of placing a custom-made oversized student cap on the head of the Havis Amanda statue at Helsinki’s Market Square.
An estimated 50,000 people, many of whom were wearing their own cherished student caps, were on hand to watch the proceedings. The May Day holiday is nowadays almost the only time that the caps, which are presented to those who matriculate from upper-level secondary school, are worn.
The street partying on May Eve was relatively calm, although police in Helsinki had to contend with occasional alcohol-fuelled scuffles.
In Helsinki a street patrol of the Finnish Red Cross helped intoxicated young people to a sobering-up station set up for the purpose. By midnight Monday about 100 people had been helped by the volunteers, about ten of whom were hospitalised.
In Tampere crowds of people milled around in the streets, but in the city things were relatively calm. Police in Tampere are also investigating the rape of a 19-year-old woman in the Lielahti area at about 1:00 AM Tuesday morning.
In Turku, six assaults were reported on Monday evening. One man was arrested after firing shots from a blank gun from an apartment balcony. Police were alerted by witnesses who did not know if the gun was real or not.
The suspect was caught in the stairwell of the apartment house. He resisted arrest and had to be physically restrained before he was arrested.
Police in the Oulu region reported a number of violent incidents. There were about 20 reports of fights of various kinds. A man in nearby Haukipudas was stabbed in the chest, but his injuries were not serious.
Police in Oulu got a total of 190 calls by Tuesday morning. More than 40 child welfare reports were made, most of which involved underage drinking.
On Tuesday morning President Sauli Niinistö and his wife Jenni Haukio received the traditional musical First of May greetings in front of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, with the YL Male Choir, linked with the students of the University of Helsinki, taking the lead.
Masses of students and former students wearing their traditional white caps converged on Ullanlinnanmäki on the southern tip of the Helsinki peninsula for outdoor picnics in the cool but sunny weather.
Previously in HS International Edition:
VAPPU/FIRST OF MAY - MAY DAY! (30.4.2012)
An article from 2000 explains the basic idea of the Vappu celebration (3.5.2000)