Fantastic First of May – tips on how to throw an unforgettable May Day party

What is May Day?

May Day is a cheerful carnival that’s held in celebration of springtime and the upcoming summer. May Day has many meanings in history and it’s an important day especially for the working class and students. The official May Day is May first, but celebrations are often held on the eve of May Day, on the last day of April.

The history of May Day dates back to Medieval times when a nun and saint Walpurgis’ memory was celebrated. Walpurgis was active in especially girls’ education issues and cultural work. In Europe the Celts and Germans also celebrated May Day as the first day of summer since it was believed that good spirits of summer defeated the darkness of winter during the night of May Day.

May Day also has history in agriculture: farmers traditionally burned bonfires on May Day as it was believed that the tradition increased the cattle’s fertility. Bad spirits were chased off and good ones were called in with bells and horns. Peasants would dance around bonfires, drink mead and wish for a good year. There were many beliefs and charms related to May Day.

As the day of labor May Day has its roots in the United States. The first day of May was the day when work agreements were traditionally renewed and jobs were switched. The day soon settled as a celebration and protest day for the working class. There are many May Day marches around the world and the day has a long history in protesting and demanding for better work conditions.

Nowadays May Day, also known as the First of May, is an interesting combination of a spring carnival for students, an international celebration and protest day for the working class, the historical celebration of summer arriving and of course a chance to throw an epic party. We put together some tips on how you can organize a fantastic May Day party full of color, good vibes and tons of fun. Check out our best tips for a May Day’s menu, drinks, décor and program. Let the party begin!


May Day isn’t the most traditional holiday and it’s not standard to send out cards or special wishes but you can always shout out “Happy May Day!” when you see a familiar face.

May Day menu aka food that fits First of May

A traditional May Day menu consists of mead, funnel cake, doughnuts and bubbly drinks. On May Day the menu can be super relaxed: a lot of people like to spend May Day on a picnic where you can enjoy snacks, sparkling drinks and a good carnival atmosphere. Good snacks for a picnic are for example potato salad, avocado hummus with chips or crispy bread, cheese-stuffed dates or spicy meatballs.

Because May Day is a celebration of the beginning of summer, it’s a great time to kick off you barbeque season as well. Even though May Day is traditionally celebrated more in the cities, people are heading to their summer cottages and villas in increasing numbers. Getting out of the city allows the grill to be sizzling all day with amazing goodies. The menu of a May Day barbeque can consist of for example spicy chicken kebabs, grilled pizza and grilled sausage with a spicy sauce.

Nowadays May Day is celebrated on the eve of the actual holiday. A brunch or lunch is a popular way to spend the official May Day, known as the day after for many party animals. Good coffee, fresh juice and tons of vibrant and tasty flavors are a must at a May Day brunch. Cheeses like camembert with fig jam also work well.

There is no argument over the best desserts of May Day. Doughnuts are a very traditional May Day dessert that many people still bake at home with traditional recipes. A doughnut rolled in sugar enjoyed with a glass of mead is bound to get your taste buds purring. Another traditional pastry for May Day is funnel cake. If traditional treats are not your thing, you can try a fresh key lime pie.


Even though sausages and potato salad a super classic combofor May Day, you can always serve them in an unexpected way – such as potato salad hot dogs!

Decorate your May Day feast with streamers and balloons. Glow sticks bring a touch of color to your table and help guests navigate to the table even after the sun starts to set.

Drinks for May Day: mead, cocktails and punch

Drinks are of course a very important part of May Day. As the theme of the whole holiday is to get into a good carnival feeling, it’s natural that popular drinks are basically anything that bubbles, sparkles and has a fizz to it. A traditional May Day drink is mead which is also known as honey wine. It has a long history in many cultures.


If you plan to make your own mead, be sure to start early. A traditional mead takes 3-5 days to prepare, depending on which recipe you use. If you want to really make an impression, try this recipe.

Sparkling wine and champagne are legendary May Day drinks. A good way to spice up the traditional drink choices is to serve some May Day cocktails. Ginger martinis and Frech75s are excellent choices for May Day. Decorate your drinks with palm tree parasols to get the ultimate May Day mood.

Drinking games are always a good choice if you’re trying to find ideas for the program at your party: beer pong is a game you can play basically anywhere! If you’re having a picnic, the game will get an extra factor from the uneven terrain. The red cups traditionally used for beer pong are perfect for all drinks as the red color fits the carnival feel of May Day perfectly. You can also use the cups to serve a May Day punch if you wish.

Decorate your May Day party with colors

May Day is a time of carnivals so it’s ok to play with colors and go wild with the décor at this party. A lot of times May Day is celebrated outside and not at a specific venue. There might be a lot of moving around during the day and evening, so it may be difficult to figure out the décor – but not impossible! Streamers and balloons are must have decorations at a May Day party. A cooler version of traditional balloons are glow in the dark balloons that look like normal balloons in daylight but turn into party mode when the lights go out. Here are some other tips for the hottest May Day décor:


What would be a better way to start the summer than bubbles? The bubble gun shoots bubbles and has flashing LED lights. This bubble gun will give you a bubbly May Day mood in no time!


It may be hard to keep bigger decorations with you, especially when your crew is on the move all evening. Compact confetti guns solve the problem! They are easy to carry with you and bring on a good groove wherever you are.


If you want to invest in simple but sophisticated décor, your choice is a giant led ball. These balls are a whopping 90cm in diameter, so they will make a statement for sure! These balls are great for marking your picnic spot: you’ll stand out and none of your friends will get lost during the evening!

May Day attire and May Day makeup

On May Day there’s a simple rule to dressing up: the more colorful, the better! It common to see people wearing masks, whisks and streamers to get into the carnival mood. Students usually dress up in overalls, which are a great choice if the weather varies: overalls protect well from the cold, damp and dirt. It’s also easy to spot your friends based on the color of their overalls. If you want to stand out from the crowd, top your look with some creative accessories made from the contents of the party package and a portable disco ball that helps you start a party wherever you are.

In addition to masks and streamers it’s common for people to put special effort into their makeup and hair for the festivities. It’s common for people to dye their hair all kinds of colors for May Day and there really isn’t a color you can’t wear on this day. A unicorn hair dye set is a good option if you want some extra sass to your hair but don’t wish to have a permanent makeover.


A true party animal doesn’t just get wild with colors during the day, but also makes a glowing statement on the dance floor at night. Wth a crown built from glow sticks you will definitely be the king or queen of the dance floor – giving you and everyone around you an epic party experience!

May Day is a celebration of students and graduates and it’s common to see different types of graduate hats at the festivities. Even if you decide to go with a very subtle look with wearing only your graduate hat with normal party attire be sure to bring a little fun into your outfit with flashing led sunglasses. Graduate hats have a special meaning on May Day and students and graduates are proud to wear them.

May Day for students and a traditional May Day program

May Day is a traditional student celebration. Graduates have eagerly celebrated the upcoming spring and summer since the 1900’s. For students the festivities of May Day usually last the whole week and it’s common to see students in their overalls promoting May Day well before the actual event. Especially students in the technical field are diligent May Day party animals. For many students May Day is the most important student festivity of the year. Be sure to check out our best tips for a student parties!


A generic student in the day, the glowing king of the party at night? Stand out and customize your overalls! Add some hidden messages on your attire with the help of UV graffa tape or invisible ink. These will start to glow in UV light, revealing your May Day messages to the world.

In Finland students have strong traditions of capping statues in the city centers. As the graduate cap goes on the statue’s head, the May Day celebration officially begins. Each city has its traditional statues that get capped every year.

May Day, also known as Traditional Labor Day, is an important day for the working class worldwide. Marches and protests are an iconic part of the day. The roots of May Day for the Working class date back to the 1900’s when the social democrats wanted a worldwide united celebration day in the spring. On May Day it’s a tradition to protest and march for better working conditions. At protests people dress in their best outfits and don’t accept drunk participants to attend.

For families a major part of May Day are different types of fairs and markets that sell carnival goods and balloons. Music at the markets creates a nice atmosphere and gives a glimpse of the coming summer. It’s also a tradition to attend concerts on May Day. For children a May Day minidisco is a must!

May Day 2018 in Finland

May Day is a big thing in Finland: May Day markets, balloons, statues getting capped by students and a carnival vibe all around. In Helsinki you can celebrate May Day at the opening of the Espa sun terrace, a May Day dance in Vallila or chilling at the beautiful Hernesaari. Students will cap the statue Manta on Espa. On May first it’s a tradition to have a picnic and say cheers at Ullanlinnanmäki, while the working class gets ready to protest at Hakaniemi.

In Tampere it’s a tradition that students cap the Suomen Neito -statue on Hämeensilta. On May first you can watch as the technical university’s freshmen get “christened” by dipping them into the water in Koskipuisto. There are a lot of fun activities for families, music and of course May Day markets around the city in Tampere. The amusement park Särkänniemi traditionally opens its doors for the summer on May Day. In Turku the May Day festivities traditionally begin by a capping ceremony in Taidemuseonmäki. After this the students wash and cap the statue Lilja. On May first it’s tradition to go on a picnic on Vartionvuorenmäki where there is live music and other program to keep the picnickers entertained.

In Jyväskylä the May Day market takes over Kävelykatu, while students cap the Minna Canth statue in Kirkkopuisto. On May first it’s tradition to go on a picnic on Harju and watch the fantastic American cars on their traditional May Day cruising. In Vaasa students head to the beach near Hovioikeus where different student organizations race with boats to see which school is the best. At six the statue of Topelius is capped in Kirkkopuisto.

From May Day to Midsummer

It’s common to spend May Day in very varied weather but a good party vibe is possible to accomplish in any weather. Just prepare yourself with proper attire, keep the décor in mind and stock up on snacks and fizzy drinks. The perfect party mood is all up to a great attitude and proper gear.

If you must spend May Day working or are not able to let your party animal loose for some other reason, you won’t have to wait long for the next party. Midsummer is coming fast and gives you a chance to party hard enough for both holidays. If you feel like you can’t wait and need to let loose with a good party before midsummer, you can organize an epic house party – there’s always a reason to party!