January 6 - 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. Try mämmi, a traditional Finnish Easter dish and especially the chocolate eggs.
May 1 - May Day (Vappu/Vappen)
A big day of celebration among students and workers, especially the night before, April 30. Try sima, a traditional soft drink (also known as ’the drink of the Nordic Gods’), and tippaleipä, a kind of pastry typical for May Day.
Vappu is the official student celebration day all over the country and the best way to experience it is to get together with Finnish students. Current and former students of all ages are wearing overalls and the traditional, white student caps.
The action kicks off on April 30. 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 1 picnic.
May 11 - 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 29 - 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 8 - Whit Sunday/Pentecost (Helluntai/Pingst)
A Christian holiday where the event of holy spirits descencion to apostles is remembered.
June 20–21 - 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 or in the archipelago or by a lake shore. 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 takes 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 youths 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. People light two candles in the windows between 18.00 and 20.00. 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 e.g. the government, members of parliament, the Finnish members of the European parliament, other civil servants and ambassadors. 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 - Lucia Day (Lucian päivä/Luciadagen)
It is not a public holiday, but one of the most traditional Scandinavian festivities, celebrated in the Swedish speaking parts of Finland as well as in Sweden and Norway, in memory of the Italian Saint Lucia. There are Saint Lucia processions everywhere, and most cities and even smaller villages elect their own Saint Lucia, 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 Lucia visits e.g. homes for the elderly people and kindergartens.
December 24–25 - Christmas Eve and Day (Jouluaatto/Julafton, Joulupäivä/Juldagen)
Christmas Eve is traditionally celebrated with family and close friends at home, whereas Christmas Day celebration traditions vary somewhat throughout the country.
December 26 - Boxing Day (Tapaninpäivä/Annandag jul)
Boxing day is a public holiday and it is usually spent by visiting relatives.
December 31st - January 1st - New Year’s Eve & 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, restaurants and see the fireworks at the Aura River side at midnight offered by the City of Turku.
Annual ball (Vuosijuhlat/Årsfest)
Every year the student unions, as well as many student associations, arrange parties to celebrate their anniversaries. The nature of these parties is usually formal (dress code: white tie), but at the same time, it is a laid back and, most importantly, a fun occasion. The festivities usually include a cocktail-speech, followed by dinner, the main speech and dancing. At around noon the next day, there is usually a brunch for those who feel up to it. Participating in an annual ball is definitely worth the experience.