16 February 2006


Today and tomorrow represent two important days in the life of Finnish high schoolers. These are two traditions that I was lucky enough to take part in during my last stay in Finland.

Today is the last day of school for those that will write the ylioppilaskirjoitukset, which is surprisingly easier to say in finnish than "matriculation examination" is to say in english (though the english way has more rhythm). In celebration of this, the students go crazy, dressing up in wild costumes, getting more than a little drunk, and having a ceremony at the school. At this ceremony an "effigy" of the school is lit on fire and burnt for all to see, some teachers are made fun of, and then the Abit (graduating seniors) are carried as their names are annouced and loaded into the back of a truck. The truck then cruises about the town with them cheering and throwing candy at those they pass. The party of course continues all day, and those that haven't hit the floor hit up the bars that night. As you can imagine, the next day is a "day of rest" for many of them;)

A google search will turn up lots more crazy images if you want to see different towns celebrations of the festival throughout the years. I even saw one school that had it together enough to theme their penkkarit "cowboys and indians."

This means that the 2nd year students are now the oldest in the school, and tomorrow they will have their ceremony celebrating this.

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