Finns Celebrate First of May

Yle Uutisten artikkeliarkisto

Chilly rainy weather failed to dampen May Day spirits in Finland. Police intervened in cases of drunkenness, assaults and noisy behaviour but no major incidents were reported.

The celebrations were launched on Wednesday evening with the placing of a large student cap on the Havis Amanda statue at Helsinki’s Market Square.

President Tarja Halonen received traditional students' greetings at the Presidential Palace on Thursday morning.

Many people turned out to march but without party political banners for the first time. Trade union banners were in evidence calling for work and peace and in support of the welfare state.

May Day is a time of political speeches. Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki gave her speech at the statue of former President Kyösti Kallio in Helsinki. Parliamentary Speaker Paavo Lipponen spoke in the city of Kuopio.

Alcohol consumption usually rises considerably during the First of May celebrations. Sales this past week amounted to 1.4 million litres, which is 80 percent more than normal. After Christmas and Midsummer, the First of May is the third largest season in alcohol sales. Sparkling wine is the most popular drink for this holiday.

YLE24, Finnish News Agency