The Annual Ball
The Annual Ball is the most elegant and solemn celebration of the year, marking the Student Union’s birthday. On the day of the event, the Student Union pays its respects to the founder of Åbo Akademi, Per Brahe, at the statue in front of the cathedral. ÅAS´assosiations participate in this tribute with their banners in a parade, and the chairperson of the Student Union delivers a short speech to Count Per Brahe.
The evening’s annual ball begins with a solemn ceremony and is followed by a banquet, dancing, and an after-party. During the banquet, speeches are given by the Chancellor and Rector of ÅAU, as well as the Student Union’s curator, along with an invited guest speaker. The celebrations continue the next day on the “silliz”, which is usually a fun overall-clad event with a band playing and delicious snacks.
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The highlight of the year at ÅA is undoubtedly May Day a.k.a vappen. Vappen begins with cheering on ÅA’s rowers in the Wapprodden on Aura River in Åbo and Fiskarstranden in Vasa.
A little before 6 p.m., a long parade begins in Åbo, with all the student associations’ flags, heading up to Vårdberget. At 6 p.m., the Chair of ÅAS gives a speech to the students at the top of Vårdberget, and the Brahe Djäknar and Florakören choirs sing. After the Chairperson’s speech, students put on their graduation caps with the words, ‘Students, spring is here, put on your caps.’ The event on Vårdberget is broadcast on both national radio and TV.
In Vasa, students gather at the Övningsskolands gymnasium and by the Zacharias Topelius statue for choir singing by Pedavoces and a cap-putting ceremony, which is done jointly with the other student unions in the city.
On the first of May, there’s a picnic on Vårdberget in Åbo and in Hovrättsparken in Vasa, with caps and overalls. No matter how cold the weather is, students usually celebrate the arrival of spring.
The ‘Lilla Wappen’ is held at the end of September. In the early days of the Academy, students used to wear their caps throughout the summer. ‘Lilla Wappen’ was the occasion when they would stop wearing the caps. ÅAS has upheld this tradition, and at twelve o’clock on Lilla Wappen, the chairperson gets to say, ‘Students, autumn is here, turn your caps inside out,’ and everyone who has their caps with them turns them inside out and awaits the next May Day celebration.
In Åbo, ÅAS march together with other student unions to the war heros’ graves, while in Vasa, they walk to the Freedom Statue in the city square.