Brands in culture: Vappu

The first of May or International Worker’s Day — no matter you want to call it or how you wish to celebrate it, no one does it better than the Finns.

After the cold and dark winter months, May Day is a time of spring festivities intermingled with political marches, speeches and student celebrations. As one of the biggest holidays in Finland, it brings tens of thousands of people together.

Except this year.

COVID-19 changed everything in the glimpse of an eye, as the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin underlined that May Day would now need to be celebrated virtually.

We took a look at some of the best examples of how brands, cities and even the Tax Administration are energizing people during self-quarantine to still celebrate a beloved holiday.

Acts of solidarity — S-Group / HOK-Elanto

The Coronavirus has brought out the best in many brands, as they strive to help those in need. May Day usually means a spike in consumption, as people go shopping for traditional Finnish foods, such as mead, doughnuts, and picnic supplies.

HOK-Elanto, part of the biggest Finnish grocery store chain S-Group, decided not to advertise their own products in their ads. Instead they are asking people to care for one another in an act of solidarity. In their printed ad they give multiple alternatives of charities that are most gravely in need, like SOS Children’s Villages, the Red Cross and mental health organizations.

SOURCE: HOK Elanto / S-Ryhmä

Togetherness using VR — City of Helsinki, Fullsteam Agency and Zoan Oy

In the heart of Finland’s capital Helsinki stands the statue Havis Amanda regarded as one of the most important and beloved pieces of art in the city. On the eve of May Day, the statue serves as a centerpiece in the celebrations when she is crowned with a student cap. Tens of thousands of celebrators gather to put on their own caps and raise their glasses. This tradition is mimicked all over the country with caps being placed on various statues.

This year the famous statue will be crowned in a virtual version of Helsinki, followed by a VR gig by massively popular rap duo JVG, who quite fittingly, has a hit song called Eternal May Day.

SOURCE: Helsingin Sanomat


Over the years, May Day has become especially important for students, which is why many are arranging alternative ways to participate through a variety of challenges and pranks leading up to virtual celebrations. Packages with supplies and directives are even being sent home to students, so they can take part in the festivities and traditions from the safety of their homes.

Companies are encouraging their employees to stay at home by arranging virtual parties on the eve of May Day. In addition to the entertainment, this has created a sense of togetherness in this era of social distancing.

The Finnish Tax Office took self-quarantine to a whole new level, creating their own “quarantine dog” gif’s on Instagram. People are encouraged to create an Instagram story featuring their favorite song and the quarantine dog, all songs are then added to a May Day playlist and the best stories recognized.

SOURCE: Verohallinto / Instagram

As countries all over the world have seemingly been frozen in time, it is comforting to know that the uniqueness of culture, the creativity of people, and the relentless optimism of societies move ever forward.

Happy May Day, Finland.

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