The Finnish Center at Saima Park

Fitchburg, MA


VAPPU – The First of May - a Finnish carnival


The First of May is an important day among students.  The festivities of the First of May are celebrated in the whole country with gusto.  Students, and former students, celebrate by wearing their white student caps.  Noise makers, whistles, balloons, bangles and baubles belong to May Day.

During the festivities, a traditional non-alcoholic beverage is enjoyed on the First of May.  Mead (or Sima) is served cool.  Tippaleipä (a Finnish fritter) is a traditional sweet May Day snack.




Vappu is the Memorial Day of Saint Labor, holiday of spring and university students and also the workers international festival and demonstration day.   It has been celebrated in Finland since 1890, and, in addition, in many countries it has been paid day-off since 1918.




At Vappu, students and family generally drink mead and eat Mayday fritters, however, some drink beer and other alcoholic drinks.

Big festivals abound in the city streets and in market places.  People of all ages wear their students’ caps.  Students gather around a statue, such as havasamanda in Helsinki, and wash the statue before putting a white cap on her head.


Mead-making (Sima)

     3 Lemons

     8 liters of water

     1/4 teaspoonfuls of yeast

     1/2kg of brown sugar

     1/2kg of sugar

     (1/2 dl of syrup)

     (10 hop's inflorescences)


For each of 8 one liter bottles:
    1/2 teaspoonful of sugar

     5 raisins



Peel and slice lemons.

Parboil about ½ liter of the water and pour it over sugar and syrup.

Mix until all sugar has dissolved.

Add rest of water and lemon slices and hops.

Add yeast.

Let the liquid ferment for 24 hours in room temperature.


Strain the liquid through cheesecloth


Bottle it.

Add to each bottle

½ teaspoonful sugar and five raisins.

Seal the bottles with rubber corks.

Store them in cool place.


The Sima (Lemon drink) is ready after one week. Remember to serve it cold!


May-day Fritters


2 eggs

1 tablespoon of sugar

½ liter lukewarm milk

25 g yeast

450 g fine wheat flour


For frying:

cooking grease



Mix the eggs and sugar

Add  milk and yeast.

Add wheat flour and put mixture to rise


Heat the grease in the pot

Sink a round soup ladle to fill half-full of hot grease.

Squeeze 2 tablespoon of dough mixture through the paper cone into the ladle

Flip the fritter and fry to light brown

Place the fritters onto paper towel and let it drain.

When cold, sprinkle them with confectioners sugar through the sifter.


Serve with Mead and enjoy!


[Back to start page]





All material on this site, unless otherwise noted, is © The Finnish Center at Saima Park, Inc., 2001-2005.  All rights reserved.
This page was last updated on: 10/23/17

Feedback, suggestions, etc - please contact the