Discovering Finland

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Aihe Uncategorized, 26.12.2007 22:02, Lisa Atack


So Christmas is over… People here in Finland celebrate Christmas on the 24th… so I think Santa comes on the night of the 23rd. It makes sense that Santa, being from Korvatunturi (a city in Finland)) would deliver gifts to Finland first, and then head off to the rest of the world (at least in my mind this seems reasonable). So with that said, Lee and I sort-of had two Christmases, one on the 24th and the other on the 25th (which is when people in the U.S. celebrate).

On the 24th, everyone in Turku (at least it seemed like everyone!) went to the old town center near the picturesque church (see picture below). Lee and I went as well and once there had glogi (a hot, sweet tea/wine drink with almonds) and listened to a band. At noon there was some sort of traditional reading…Lee and I weren’t real sure what was being said since our Finnish skills are barely existent, but we listened and enjoyed the gathering regardless.

Another positive element about the festive gathering was that there were many new dogs for Mikku, “the Ewok”, to meet. However, Lee and I found it challenging to communicate with the owners of Mikku’s new friends, and felt guilty for not having learned enough Finnish to respond to their questions concerning Mikku.

Now about the Weather: Lee and I both thought that living in Finland guaranteed us a white Christmas, but instead got only a light rain and wind both on the 24th and the 25th. Although the weather was a bit disappointing, Lee and I still had a great Christmas!

Crime in Finland:

I should probably rephrase that heading to “Lack of Crime in Finland” because I have heard that Finland is one of the safest countries in the world! When Lee and I first got here we were shocked to see children as young as seven walking through the busiest parts of downtown alone, as well as riding the public buses to school by themselves! The first time we saw a small child waiting for a bus alone we watched her with worry and waited until she got on her bus safely.

Back in the U.S., having a small child ride a public bus alone doesn’t really happen…I guess the U.S is constantly teaching us to look over our shoulders, which is a sad habit Lee and I have both acquired.

Hockey (written by Lee Sweatt):

In response to a comment posted on one of Lisa’s earlier posts about Karpat, I would like to say that we approach the games against Karpat much the same as we do any other team in our league. Of course they have some really high-caliber players and are on top of the standings as I type this but, every game has to be approached from the point of view that we have to play our game and if we do that the best we can, we should at least have a chance to win the game.

As for last week, we played Blues at home and KalPa in Kuopio. In the Blues game we played well. We controlled the play and flow of the game and had more scoring chances than they did but just weren’t able to put a couple extra pucks in the net. The game against KalPa, although we won, wasn’t a very well played game at all. I have to give credit to KalPa because they really played a great game and that could be seen by the 41 shots they had on goal. Alex Salak, nicknamed “Borat” on the team, had a great game in net and, along with David Lundbohm’s two-goal performance, was the main reason we came back from Kuopio with three points.

Up this week are two home games against Assat and Pelicans and both games are shaping up to be challenging. These games will help set the tone for our playoff run for the last half of the season so hopefully we get a couple of wins. See you at the rink!!

Christmas Gathering in Old Square

Artikkelia ei voi kommentoida.

20 Vastausta artikkeliin “Christmas”

Henri: 27.12.2007 kello 0:19

I really hope that Lee will continue in TPS..

Mikko Ojanen: 27.12.2007 kello 3:56

Hello, and merry post-Christmas!

Santa indeed does visit Finnish homes earlier than the rest of the world, but not quite as early as you figured: His visit is the highlight of Christmas Eve for many families, or at least the children.
It’s also very different from his rather stealthy methods in the US. Usually a little while after Christmas dinner, he will arrive through the front door, carrying a sack full of presents. (quite often the father, or some other adult male member of the family, will have “coincidentally” just gone outside on some or other excuse, such as checking on the sauna.)
He will then ask the traditional question “Onko täällä kilttejä lapsia?” = “Are there any nice/well behaved children here?” and then hand out the presents. He may also socialize with the children a little before heading out to continue his work.

The big gathering you were at was another Finnish Christmas tradition: The Declaration of Christmas Peace. For brevity’s sake, I’ll let Wikipedia do the explaining:
(Wikipedia has a whole mess of Finland-related articles you might want to check out, by the way.)

I’m glad you had a nice Christmas, and I hope your New Year’s celebration will go well, too. Take care, both of you. :)

Finnish Woman: 27.12.2007 kello 8:46

I am really sorry to say but when Lisa writes about hockey, it is more interesting to read. Lisa’s writing has more hmm… how to say it right… “human interest”. She writes about things that cannot be read anywhere else. There is already too many a man writing about hockey. Sorry Lee…

Janne Virtanen: 27.12.2007 kello 11:00

Turku is the official Christmas City of Finland and that “some sort of traditional reading” is The Declaration of Christmas Peace.

In english:

Christmas City:

Facts about declaration:

Otto: 27.12.2007 kello 15:12

That text you listened to is explained in the attached links from the Turku municipal home page. I enjoy your blog very much, please keep up the good work!

helly: 27.12.2007 kello 20:20

Actually, Santa comes already in the evening of the 24th, when the Finnish children are still awake. Many kids are a bit upset, though, because their dads never get to see Santa: For some reason, many dads go to do something important outside every single year just before Santa comes to visit. (Of course, you can also get some relative or a friend to play Santa or even hire a Santa for the youngest children.)

What you listened to near the church was the traditional declaration of the Christmas Peace. Originally, the authorities in some medieval cities wanted to warn the inhabitants against breaking any laws or behaving otherwise badly during Christmas. In the middle ages, it was a very real warning, since the punishments were harsher for improper behaviour during Christmas. And that’s what the declaration text read by the city manager still is about, even if it’s nowadays only a symbolical warning and ends with wishes of a Merry Christmas to all.

Katinka: 27.12.2007 kello 23:01

Hi! I’ve just recently found your blog and it’s very entertaining:). But poor you for having black Christmas! It’s sad that there is so little snow in Turku because of sea being near and all global warming stuff… You should wisit Lapland. We had a white Christmas here, but there was less snow than usual too.

By the way: It’s true that we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, but Santa comes at the afternoon or evening of the 24th, usually when children are still awake.

Jenna: 28.12.2007 kello 0:12

Nice ! (:

Sebastian: 28.12.2007 kello 21:10

Happy holidays from Switzerland! I truly like to hear from both of you. Thank you very much for such fun and informative reflections..

PePe: 28.12.2007 kello 21:21

Great blog!

Here is good article in Dallas Stars homepage about Santas & Xmas in USA, Finland and Sweden.

Lisa Atack: 28.12.2007 kello 22:41

Thanks for all the links! I probably shouldn’t make so many assumptions and instead just ask you guys!

Cooper: 29.12.2007 kello 3:17

Snow or no snow it looks beautiful. What a nice tradition for a town to have. As for Mikku I am sure that language is no barrier. Happy New Year.

Mikko Ojanen: 29.12.2007 kello 3:35

You probably should, there is little we Finns like to do more than tell foreigners about Finland (as you have probably noticed by now). :P We just love being “noticed by the big world” so we’ll go out of our way to get noticed. Must have something to do with being a country of only 5 million people on the edge of the world…

helly: 29.12.2007 kello 10:17

Don’t worry, Lisa: Your fresh perspective is the best part of this blog, along with your assumptions and questions about different things. We Finns are typically very (almost too) interested in knowing what foreigners think about us and just love to explain these things. You certainly got a big bunch of links to prove that!;-)

Petri: 30.12.2007 kello 16:14

You can usually feel pretty safe walking in the city, but take a look around on any friday or saturday night? Can’t avoid seeing drunk morons peeing and breakin’ bottles on the streets. Haven’t seen that stupid behaviour anywhere but here in Finland, where it seems to be tolerated. Foreign people must think what’s wrong with these people? God I feel ashamed!

2mas: 31.12.2007 kello 5:03

Finnish culture includes that you get drunk weekends and be sober monday to friday, except if you are student, when you get drunk on wednesdays too. Being drunk somedays is natural in finland.

Pam N: 31.12.2007 kello 17:05

I like reading about the Finnish Christmas Eve celebration with Santa. My mom is from Berlin and this is how we celebrated Christmas too! Happy New Year to you both.

brunette: 2.1.2008 kello 13:54

You wrote “Christmas is over” on the 26th, but you were wrong. In Finland the 26th is the second day of Christmas and it is a holiday, most stores etc. are closed.
Korvatunturi is not a city… it’s a fell (tunturi).

CutiePie: 3.1.2008 kello 2:06

Glad to hear you, Lee and Mikku had a nice Christmas. I am really enjoying reading about your adventures in Finland and I’m learning a lot about the country. You are doing a great job with the blog. Hope you have a great New Year!

music: 9.1.2008 kello 0:51

very interesting.
i’m adding in RSS Reader

Lisa Atack

  • My name is Lisa Atack and I recently moved to Turku, Finland with my boyfriend, Lee Sweatt, who plays for the TPS hockey team. I graduated from Colorado College in May and I am currently applying to medical schools and hoping to be accepted. In the mean time, I’m trying to adapt to Finnish culture and hope to share with you the weekly adventures of being an American in Finland.



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