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Scandinavia(skăn'dĭnā`vēə), region of N Europe. It consists of the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark; Finland and Iceland are usually considered part of Scandinavia. Physiographically, Denmark belongs to the North European Plain rather than to the geologically distinct Scandinavian peninsula (which is part of the ancient Baltic Shield), occupied by Norway and Sweden. Sometimes the word "Norden" is applied to the five countries because it avoids the physiographic and cultural limitations of the word Scandinavia. The Scandinavian peninsula (c.300,000 sq mi/777,000 sq km) is c.1,150 mi (1,850 km) long and from 230 to 500 mi (370–805 km) wide and is bordered by the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea, the Kattegat and Skagerrak straits, the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean. It is mountainous in the west (rising to 8,104 ft/2,470 m at Glittertinden, S Norway) and slopes gently in the east and the south. The region was heavily glaciated during the Ice Age; Jostedalsbreen (W Norway), the largest glacier of mainland Europe, is a remnant of the great ice sheet. The peninsula's western coast is deeply indented by fjords. Short, swift-flowing streams drain to the west, while long parallel rivers and numerous lakes are found in the east; Vänern and Vättern, both in S Sweden, are among Europe's largest lakes. Nearly a quarter of the peninsula lies N of the Arctic Circle, reaching its northernmost point in Cape Nordkyn, Norway. The climate varies from tundra and subarctic in the north, to humid continental in the central portion, and to marine west coast in the south and southwest. The region's best farmland is in S Sweden. The peninsula is rich in timber and minerals (notably iron and copper), and has a great hydroelectricity generating capacity. Its coastal waters are important fishing grounds. Large petroleum and natural-gas deposits have been found off Norway's coast in the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Population is concentrated in the southern part of the peninsula; Stockholm and Göteborg (both in Sweden) and Oslo (Norway) are the largest cities. Except for the Sami (Lapps) and Finns in the north and east, the Scandinavian peoples speak a closely related group of Germanic languages—Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Faeroese, and Swedish. The oldest Germanic literature (see Old Norse literatureOld Norse literature,
the literature of the Northmen, or Norsemen, c.850–c.1350. It survives mainly in Icelandic writings, for little medieval vernacular literature remains from Norway, Sweden, or Denmark.
The Norwegians who settled Iceland late in the 9th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ) flourished in Scandinavia, especially in Iceland.
In Communist countries, May Day has been transformed into a holiday for workers, marked by parades that are an occasion for displaying military strength. The May Day Parade in Red Square, Moscow, has long been a spectacular example, though less so in recent years with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the resulting relaxation of Cold War tensions. Perhaps in reaction to such displays, Americans instituted Loyalty Day and Law Day on this same date. In Great Britain, May 1 is Labor Day. More than 50 other countries also celebrate Labor Day in honor of workers on May 1.
See also Vappu
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 334
BkDays-1864, vol. I, p. 570
BkFest-1937, pp. 17, 58, 88, 113, 122, 186, 261, 278, 310
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 115
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 129, 202, 203, 534, 695, 750, 866, 946, 1064
EncyEaster-2002, p. 397
FestSaintDays-1915, pp. 102, 105, 109
FestWestEur-1958, p. 37
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 205
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 315
OxYear-1999, p. 184
Celebrated in: Albania, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Eritrea, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Guyana, Iraq, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria
May Day (Czech Republic) (Prvého Máje)
Bands give concerts in village squares on May Day, and musicians go from house to house, singing. As a traditional spring festival, May Day has been a time for Czechs and Slovaks to sing, dance, and take pleasure in the beauty of the season.
See also May Day Eve in the Czech Republic
BkFest-1937, p. 88
Celebrated in: Czech Republic
May Day (France)
The First of May has political overtones in France as well, and it is a public holiday officially observed as Labor Day. Political demonstrations, speeches, and parades are common on this day—similar to May Day celebrations in England, Russia, and other countries.
French Government Tourist Office
444 Madison Ave., Fl. 20
New York, NY 10022
800-391-4909 or 212-838-7800; fax: 212-838-7855
BkDays-1864, vol. I, p. 579
BkFest-1937, p. 122
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 85
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 696
FestWestEur-1958, p. 37
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 315
Celebrated in: France
May Day (Scandinavia)
In the Swedish university town of Uppsala, students wearing white caps gather together to hear songs and speeches. Huge bonfires, also associated with Walpurgis Night, are popular in many areas of Sweden. Political speeches, parades of labor organizations, and public demonstrations take place on May 1 as well.
There is a superstition in Norway, dating back to pre-Christian times, about hearing the cuckoo's first call in spring: If the call comes from the south, the year will be good; if it is heard from the north, one will become ill or die in the coming year; if it comes from the west, one will be successful; and if it comes from the east, one will be lucky in love. For this reason, traditional Norwegian calendars show a bird perched in a tree on the mark for May 1.
BkFest-1937, p. 310
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 116
FolkWrldHol-1999, pp. 317, 318
May Day (Spain)
La Maya refers to both the girls who take part in the May Day celebrations and to the May Queen. It is traditional for a group of boys and girls to choose a queen, sit her on a couch or chair, and dance around her on May Day. They sing love songs, or coplas, in which they ask for food and money from everyone who passes by, and then use the contributions for a feast or banquet.
In some areas, the May Queen has been replaced by a Cruz de Mayo, or May cross. An altar is set up with candles, a white cloth, and a cross decorated with flowers and ribbons. There is dancing around the altar and requests for food and money. Sometimes young girls carry the wooden May crosses through the streets, asking for contributions. It is possible that this custom resulted from the confusion of May Day with the Feast of the Holy Cross, formerly observed by the Roman Catholic Church on May 3 ( see Exaltation of the Cross), and still observed by Catholics in Latin America ( see Día de la Santa Cruz)
Tourist Office of Spain
666 Fifth Ave., Fl. 35
New York, NY 10103
212-265-8822; fax: 212-265-8864
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 1064
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 318
Celebrated in: Spain