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Nation marks Vappu without physical crowding

Published : 01 May 2020, 00:19

Updated : 01 May 2020, 10:42

  DF Report

File Photo Xinhua.

The country this year celebrates International Workers’ Day, more widely known as the May Day, avoiding physical gathering due to the current coronavirus outbreak, commemorating the 1886 uprising of Chicago workers to establish their labour rights.

All outdoor programmes marking the May Day, locally known as Vappu, remain suspended owing to the state of emergency imposed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of the Arts Student Union (ArtSU), responsible for the traditional Crowning of Havis Amanda in the capital, arranged this year’s ceremony entirely in a virtual environment.

As holding the crowning ceremony at the Market Square in Helsinki following the tradition is not possible this time, ArtSU has arranged it in an alternative way that allows everyone to follow it safely from home.

Conducted in cooperation with the City of Helsinki and the VR studio Zoan, the virtual crowning ceremony offered an opportunity to experience the traditional event in a wholly new and unique manner.

The ceremony was seen on Helsinki-Kanava on the Vappu Eve, Thursday, 30 April at 5:45 pm as a part of the larger Vappu programme arranged by the City of Helsinki.

The police have been enforcing public order and security with a high profile around the May Day, while also monitoring the compliance with the restrictions imposed on food and beverage by service establishments.

From the perspective of the police, the May Day Eve has so far been quiet. Very few interventions have been needed. Public places have been quiet, said a police press release.

The overall situation in the whole country has been very calm. No prohibited public event has been discovered in any police department area, and no intervention has thus been required.

In the area of the Central Finland Police Department in Tampere, only a few dozen people have been spending time in the city’s parks in groups of a few individuals. In Jyväskylä the pedestrian traffic increased in the afternoon, but no gathering was noted.

One case of convening at public places required intervention in Southeast Finland. A barbecue party of more than 10 adults and children was found in a park. The party, however, disbanded as instructed by the police.

Young people have acted quite moderately, and no gatherings of more than 10 young people have been discovered. In Eastern Finland, the pent-up energy of children was released in the form of inappropriate activities in which the police were forced to intervene. Some young people were seen driving around at night in the area of the Häme Police Department.

“The operations of the police are not that different compared to previous May Days, even though we are in a state of emergency,” remarked National Police Board Chief Superintendent Konsta Arvelin.

Earlier, the government urged people to spend Vappu with their families at home, in their yards or nearby.

The restriction on gatherings of more than 10 people is still in force. This year, people should not gather at traditional Vappu meeting places, as many small groups can quickly grow into groups of hundreds of people.

The interior ministry and the police have launched the ‘virtuaalivappu’ campaign that encourages people to deviate from traditions and celebrate Vappu on the web, in line with the current restrictions imposed on gatherings. The online Vappu events could be checked at virtuaalivappu.fi.

The virtuaalivappu.fi website has put together the most entertaining tips on how to spend one’s time on the day before Vappu and on Vappu itself. Artists, influencers, student organisations, communities, businesses, cities and municipalities have registered their free Vappu livestreams that are open to all.

International Workers’ Day marks the 1886 Hay Market massacre in Chicago, when the Chicago police fired on workers demonstrating during a general strike aimed to press home their labour rights, including an eight-hour working day. The firing resulted in the deaths of several demonstrators and police officers.

The 1st of May was adopted as International Workers’ Day in 1889 by more than 400 socialist delegates who met at the Marxist International Socialist Congress, the founding meeting of the Second International, in Paris to mark the centenary of the French Revolution.

The 1889 resolution called for a one-time demonstration but it became an annual event in the course of time. The May Day was celebrated in Russia, Brazil and Ireland first in 1891.

The day is a public holiday in most countries.