Public Holidays and Festivities
​Vappu celebration at the University Hill

January - Epiphany (Loppiainen/Trettondagen)

A Christian holiday that marks the end of religious Christmas time.

February - Shrovetide (Laskiainen/Fastlagstisdag)

Shrovetide is usually of bigger importance to university students than to the rest of the population and offers a nice chance to participate in student activities. The festivities take place in the middle of February (the exact date changes from year to year).The activities start in the morning and include some old and newly invented winter sports. The main event is the sledging competition on Vartiovuori/Vårdberget-hill, where hundreds of students gather to watch the student associations compete. Later on, the ’After Ski’ parties start and by the next morning, you have gathered some fun experiences that you will never forget!

March/April - Easter (Pääsiäinen/Påsk)

Easter is celebrated in fairly calm manner with the family, and old traditions still endure. 

On Palm Sunday, children go door-to-door dressed as witches. They give you a decorated branch of willow and you give them a chocolate egg in return.

Try mämmi, a traditional Finnish Easter dish, and especially the chocolate eggs.

May 1 - May Day (Vappu/Vappen)

Vappu is celebrated annually on 1 May and marks the end of winter. It is also celebrated as International Labour Day and is one of the biggest festivals of the year in Finland alongside Midsummer (Juhannus) and Christmas.

The action kicks off on 30 April. In the afternoon, there are concerts and other happenings. At 18.00 it is time to move on to the Art Museum Hill (Finnish-speaking students) and Vårdberget (Swedish-speaking students) where spring is welcomed with choir songs and champagne and the white student caps are put on. At 19.00 students gather down by the River Aura to crown the statue of Lilja with a student cap. After Lilja, the celebration of Vappu/Vappen and the partying continues all around town. The next morning all the students head towards Vartiovuori/Vårdberget in order to take part in the traditional May Day picnic.

Try sima, a traditional soft drink, and eat some munkkirinkilä (sugar-coated doughnut) and tippaleipä, typical pastries for May Day.

May - Mother’s Day (Äitienpäivä/Morsdag)

Mother’s day is annually held on the second Sunday of May. Traditionally mother’s receive small gifts or flowers and a breakfast in bed.

May - Ascension Day (Helatorstai/Kristi himmelsfärdsdag)

Christian holiday that celebrates Christ’s ascension to heaven. It is a public holiday, but there aren’t usually any special celebrations.

June - Whit Sunday/Pentecost (Helluntai/Pingst)

A Christian holiday where the event of holy spirits descencion to apostles is remembered.

June - Midsummer Eve and Day (Juhannus/Midsommar)

For many, the two days of Midsummer celebrations are the highlight of the year because the main features are usually plenty of food in the company of good friends, out somewhere in the countryside, the archipelago, or by a lake. The festivities usually continue well into the night as the sun barely sets on Midsummer Eve. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set at all. A lot of Finnish-speaking people light bonfires, whereas Swedish-speaking Finns decorate a Midsummer pole, but both are the centre for where dancing and singing take place.

October 31 - All Saints’ Day (Pyhäinpäivä/ Alla helgons dag)

On All Saints’ Day people light candles on the graves of their loved ones. The Anglo-American “Halloween”-like events are becoming more popular among the youth around this date but traditionally the Finnish All Saint’s Day celebrations differ from the Anglo-American ones.

November - Father’s Day (Isänpäivä/Farsdag)

Similary to Mother’s Day, Father’s day takes place on a second Sunday in November annually. Fathers are celebrated in the same fashion as mothers on their respective holiday.

November–December - Christmas parties (Pikkujoulut/Lillajul)

The season for Christmas parties start at late November and continue until Christmas. Almost every organisation and company in Finland hosts a Christmas party during the season. Most student associations start arranging Christmas parties!

For a small entrance fee, you will get a warm cup of Finnish Christmas drink glögi, a kind of mulled wine, and a bowl of delicious rice porridge – and of course, a great deal of Christmas spirit with old and new friends.

December 6 - Independence Day (Itsenäisyyspäivä/Självständighetsdagen)

A solemn celebration of Finnish independence. A Presidential Independence Day Reception is organised in the Helsinki Presidential Palace on December 6, where the president acts as host for some 2000 guests. Among the yearly invited are people who are invited due to their status, e.g. the government, members of parliament, the Finnish members of the European parliament, other civil servants and ambassadors. It has been a custom to also invite the most prominent members of business and cultural live. The number of performing artists invited to the Reception has increased in the 21st century. The party is broadcasted by YLE. Watching it is a national sport.

Students celebrate the independence with a torch-light procession from the student unions to the Unknown Soldier’s grave at the cemetery.

December 13 - Saint Lucy's Day (Lucian päivä/Luciadagen)

It is not a public holiday, but one of the most traditional Scandinavian festivities, celebrated in Finland as well as in Sweden and Norway, in memory of the Italian Saint Lucy. There are Saint Lucy processions everywhere, and most cities and even smaller villages elect their own Saint Lucy, a young woman dressed in white and wearing a crown of candles. In Turku, you can witness this event in the Cathedral. Assisted by at least four other girls, Saint Lucy visits e.g. retirement homes and kindergartens.

December 24–26 - Christmas

Christmas Eve (jouluaatto/julafton) and Christmas Day (joulupäivä/juldag) are traditionally celebrated with family and close friends at home. Boxing Day (tapaninpäivä/annandag jul) is on December 26.

​January 1 - New Year’s Day (Uudenvuodenpäivä/Nyårsdagen)

Note that only the New Year’s Day is a public holiday but the celebrations take place already in the evening of New Year’s Eve at home and restaurants. Admire the fireworks when the year changes at the Aura River side at midnight offered by the City of Turku.
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