Saturday, May 1, 2010

Glada Vappen!

Being a university student involves many obligations. You have to study hard, sit through hours and hours of lectures, and write long academic and often a little boring essays that no one but a professor is going to read. You also have to memorize insane amounts of information that you are never going to need, and will probably only use to impress some people at a party. And speaking of parties, as a student you are obligated to party. You’re obligated to party long and hard and preferably often.

This weekend was one of those times when partying is obligatory. Friday was valborgsmässoafton, or vappu, or vappen for short, or Walpurgis Night in English. It’s celebrated in Northern Europe and mostly centers around drinking copious amounts of alcoholic beverages and mjöd, or sima, which is a type of homemade mead. We also eat fresh doughnuts and rosettes, and carry around balloons and other fun stuff, but mostly it’s about the drinking. Students gather at a huge hill in the middle of the city, and listen to a men’s choir singing to celebrate the arrival of summer spring slightly warmer weather. Then everyone puts on their white caps and go on to get shitfaced.

Now imagine all of those people up on a hill, drinking, wondering where the hell they’re going to find a toilet because all that mead is so ready to come out now.

The party continues long into the night. After a couple hours of sleep, everyone meet up on the hill again the next day for a 5.000 people picnic. Some more alcohol is enjoyed, and if you’re feeling brave, some food as well. Many bring little portable barbecues and grill up sausages or steaks, preferably eaten with potato salad, and perhaps some alcohol as well. This year I made cookies for the picnic, just so I could show everyone that I still have cookies. The white cap stays on during the picnic, but has most likely become less white during the night. If you’re an engineer and therefore have the need to feel a little special and show everyone you can do advanced math, your white hat has a black pom-pom hanging from the side. This makes you look ridiculous, and a little bit like Grandma’s curtains, but everyone still looks up to you. M has one of these, and I always have to suppress the urge to dip it into my champagne glass.

Now imagine the pom-pom soaked in champagne. It would really complete the picture, wouldn’t it?

M and I had a great time celebrating vappen this year, and I am really happy tomorrow is Sunday, because we could definitely use some time to recuperate. Also, I have to finish my schoolwork and read a bunch of UN reports, because on Monday I will have 9 hours of lectures with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights while Countering Terrorism. Now that’s a title if there ever was one. I feel like maybe I should do a little curtsey when he comes in to the lecture hall. *


  1. I wish with all my heart that I'd been there to join the celebration and celebrate Walpurgis Night with you.

  2. I hope you had a cookie and some mead for me!

    It sounds like fun. Sorry about the upcoming lecture.


  3. Glada Vappen Ziva! What an excellent description of the greatest - and toughest - event of the year! (At least for a Finnish student.) I was just sitting here reading and laughing, until I realized that everything you wrote is actually true. Deeply amazed, I didn't know whether to continue laughing or start crying, but I finally made up my mind and laughed till the end. Great description, really! :)

    I actually caught a glimpse of you and M at the picnic yesterday! I was about make my way up to you and say hello, but my friends didn't notice me slowing down so I had to run after them not to lose them in the crowd. And later on I didn't see you there anymore. :( Boy, if I knew you had cookies, I actually would have considered getting a little lost... Hope you had a great picnic though, maybe we should gather some friends and have a (little smaller) picnic of our own sometime? Have a great post-Vappen-Sunday! :)


  4. Wow! A huge gathering where everyone gets together to drink and wear hats. That's my kind of party.

    Anyhow, hope you had lots of fun -- or, as Google Translate assures me they say in Finland: "Laulu apina pummeja valtaavat minun omenapuu."

  5. Frank, just checking, did you mean to say, "Kertosäe apinoiden ruiskuttaa omenasose minun pettuleipää pullia."? I believe that's the correct version of the old Finnish proverb.

  6. MikeWJ - Aww, me too Mike. Me too.

    ReformingGeek - I had cookies and mead for everyone. And I still have mead, but it's turned from nice and sweet to pure alcohol.. Yum!

    Zeidi - Aw, I'm sorry I didn't see you, I would have had cookies for you and all your friends! We should definitely have a picnic of our own. I have become a master cookie maker by now. But maybe we should do it in the summer when it's a little warmer... And when people aren't competing about who's the drunkest.

    Muschu - Yes you did. Hope you liked them, I know I loved your pizza. I wish I had some pizza right now...

    Frank - Thanks, I had a lot of fun! You should join us next year. I'm sure M has an extra hat.

    Frank and Mike - I am deeply impressed by your knowledge of old Finnish proverbs. Nevertheless, I'll have to correct you. The correct saying is, "Appilan pappilan apupapin papupata pankolla kiehuu ja kuohuu. Pappilan paksuposki piski pisti paksun papukeiton poskeensa." But don't worry, anyone could make that mistake.

  7. Ziva, even though there is a great deal of pressure to party in college, "Ei tippa tapa ja ämpäriin ei huku",just remember that "Ei oppi ojaan kaada"!

    I'm just kidding! You know how it is, "Rakkaudesta se hevonenkin potkii"!


  8. Nicky, Google Translate renders your comment as, "Ziva, Even though there is a great deal of pressure to party in college, "No way to drop the bucket and not be overwhelmed," Just Remember That "No doctrine pour into the ditch"!

    I'm just kidding! You know how it is, "Love it hevonenkin kicks"!

    I can only assume that you were there and drank way too much, or that Google Translate lacks a certain accuracy.

    Ziva, as far as your Finnish goes, clearly you're just still drunk. Which sounds great, to be honest. I'm tired of school now. I think I'd rather be stupid.

    Anyway, how'd your meeting with the Minister of Very Important International Not Blowing Up Things and People go? Did you curtsey, or bow, or do a face plant on account of being hung over from the weekend?

  9. So, is Glada Vappen an accredited course? It's hard work to maintain a 0.20% blood alcohol level for a couple of days.

  10. MikeWJ, I wasn't there (unfortunately!), I may have still had too much to drink, and Google translator is stupid! But at least Ziva may have sobered up enough to understand what I was saying...or maybe is still drunk enough to understand what I was saying?

  11. Nicky - Don't let Mike get you down, you're making perfect sense. And you're even managing to be really sweet about it.

    MikeWJ - I'm afraid the Finnish language is a little more complicated than what Google Translate can deal with. "Autossanikinko", for example, means, "in my car as well?" where 'auto' means 'car', 'ssa' means 'in', 'ni' means 'my', 'kin' means 'as well', and 'ko' is what makes it into a question.

    So in Nicky's case, all the sayings mentioned were real Finnish sayings. "Rakkaudesta se hevonenkin potkii" means "The horse kicks out of love."

    That said, I survived class with Mr. I Bet You Can't Say My Title 5 Times In a Row. It was very interesting, but I think I might have slept through half of it.

    Lauren - It's hard work, but if you're dedicated and really challenge yourself, it is definitely worth the 5 credits.

    Nicky - You always make sense. Except when you don't. And sometimes when I'm not sober, you don't make sense even when you're making sense, but other than that, you totally make sense. Am I making sense?

  12. Why do I get the feeling that I'm getting ganged up on, and not in a good way?

  13. Mike, I don't know what you're talking about. Besides, what could possibly go wrong if Nicky and I decided to gang up on you?

  14. Oh, my. You, Nicky and the ganging up on me. That's seven arms. Now my extra-large pom-pom's getting extremely hot. (I'm extra, uhmm, smart, so they gave me a bigger one than normal. Much bigger.) I'd better go dip it some alcohol to cool it off. A vat of alcohol. That would work, right?

  15. I want one of those hats and a big pink pompom! Then everyone would look up to me! (Or down at me since after all the alcohol consumption, I'd be lying on the ground!) Your party sounds amazing! Cookies and booze! Just doesn't get much better than that unless you can throw in a boink!

  16. MikeWJ - Extra smart, huh? Are you sure they're not just compensating for the lack of smarts and THAT's why they gave you an extra large pom-pom?

    Linda - Oh my god, next year I'm definitely throwing in a boink. You have the best ideas ever!

  17. No, they gave me the extra-large pom-pom because I'm actually extra smart, and to help balance my appearance out a little from head to toe, or thereabouts.

    Linda's idea is brilliant. I'm surprised it hadn't occurred to you earlier, though. Cookies and booze often lead to boinking in my experience. Especially in college, especially at or near the end of the term.

  18. What does it mean to say, "The horse kicks out of love?" This idiom is new to me, despite my extensive knowledge of Finland, its coffee shops and the window that looks into your apartment.

  19. MikeWJ - The idiom means that you hurt the ones you love most. Or it could mean that everything ulitmately leads to boinking. It's hard to say, really. It's not like idiom-interpreting is an exact science.


    Happy Tuesday,
    find some awards you may like there,
    but I would appreciate it if you comment under my poem instead.
    thanks a ton!



This blog uses the Disqus comment system. If you see this message, please wait until you see the Disqus comment form or refresh your browser. Comments posted here will not show up on the blog.