The weather finally turned warmer and we’ve started frequenting the seaside to observe the spring progressing. In the last few days, it has been the wooing of barnacle geese that has caught our attention.
They can be seen moving around on all kinds of beaches in pairs. Everyone seems to have found their mate by now.
The chances of male grass snakes or water snakes (Natrix natrix) to succeed in mating are much more slender. It takes the females one year longer to mature for breeding than for the males and in our weather conditions they only reproduce every other year. There will always be several males trying to win a female by wrapping themselves around her and rubbing the bottom of their head against her. We were lucky to see such a peaceable bundle thanks to a few fellow hikers who had spotted the wooing process at a sunny spot under a shrub. There were at least four males in peace and harmony competing over the female, the largest one in the bunch.
Sunday was May Day, which marks the official opening of the mating season called spring also for the girls and guys in our northern corner of the world. In our country, May Day – or vappu as we call it – is a carnival-style holiday, no longer that much for workers but for everyone, especially for students. On the eve, students flock in the streets celebrating spring in their faculty-specific overalls or party-going gear, depending on where they are planning to spend the evening after the opening ceremony of the feast.
In our present hometown, the students traditionally start the festivities by gathering to the street leading down from the Art Museum. A front man or woman of the local students’ union will deliver a speech from the steps of the museum. A students’ choir or band, or a few, will perform. Finally, all students – both current and former ones – will simultaneously do the capping, ie put their white student’s cap on. That is the moment when the celebrating really kicks off and the crowd starts to disperse. The rest of the night will involve loud merry-making with champagne or sparkling wine and often stronger beverages, too.
On May Day, the carefree celebrations will continue more or less in family style. Some political parties are having a parade or street event with speeches and music, which passers-by tend to ignore. Picnicking, strolling around the May Day market, treating your kids and yourself with goodies and the like are the priorities on everyone’s agenda.
Happy wooing to all those who still haven’t found their match! Blissful coexistence to all those who have!