Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas cards overview

It came to my mind to make a short overview of the Christmas cards I got this year.
Looking at the cards sent from Finland and from Poland I can see a clear difference.
Some of the Polish cards present Santa Claus or the Christmas tree, some are amusing but most of them  refer to the birth of Christ, present Nativity scenes or the Three Wise Men.

The Finnish cards in general present a different approach. I have seen mostly cheerful elfs, Santa Claus, reindeers, the forest animals and snowmen.

I see every year cards with photos of the animals with the christmas hats on (tonttulakki).
I must admit that I have mixed feelings about them, maybe because I got used to the religious Polish cards. Anyhow my son asked me to buy the cat and the dog card to 'decorate' our kitchen, so we have these ones home also:-).

There are of course also Finnish earnest cards wishing the Peaceful or the Blessed Christmas (including picture of church, Jesus, angels or candle), and the winter nature scenes cards, often with photos or ilustrations of the bullfinches (punatulkku) or forest.

I would like to present also a very original Christmas card I got this year, reproduction of work of the Finnish artist Reetta Isotupa-Siltanen:-)

Ach! and of course the handmade ones which my sons created this year:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone!

"Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home". Carol Nelson

I find this quote adequate to this blog but not because I am Pole spending Christmas in Finland.
I noticed, that Christmas brings to my mind thoughts about Christmas of my childhood, so no mater where I spend Christmas nowadays I would miss Christmases from the old times.
It was a magical time and the whole world seemed to be envolved into a celebration.
On the Polish Christmas Eve supper all the family members gather togehter to fulfill tradition of breaking off and exchanging parts of the opłatek (wafer baked from pure wheat flour and water).
It is symbol of  exchanging blessings and good wishes.
Christmas Eve in Poland is a day of fasting. At the appearance of the first star starts the Christmas Eve supper but there is any meat on the table. The main dish is fried carp and beetroot soup - while in Finland a main dish on a Christmas Eve supper is joulukinkku (Christmas ham:-) 
There is also Midnight Mass celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
My father used to buy a real Christmas tree to our home, and I remember each of over hundred of baubles and other decorations.
We used to visit different churches to admire the Nativity scenes and the Christmas trees and lights. The Christmas carols in Poland are numerous, beautiful and very popular not only in churches.
Im sure that every Pole of my age remembers 'Christmas oranges', cause during communist time oranges and lemons were available in Poland only around Christmas time.
Santa Claus used to visit Polish children on 6th of December. (Finland's Independence Day:-)
Tradition of exchanging gifts during
Christmas came later from abroad. It appeared in our family when I was already teenager.
I will finish with another quote: "There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child". Erma Bombeck

Merry Christmas! 
Hyvää Joulua!  
Radosnych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

pre-Christmas hurry in Finland

Finally today I write the 1st December post in this blog. Last weeks were surprisingly hurry.
There is a tradition of pikkujoulu in Finland. Literally it means "small Christmas".
Pikkujoulu is a pre-Christmas party organized by seems like every workplace, company, office, school, kindergarten or club. The character of the party can differ, but you can always expect to taste there some glögi (mulled wine) and piparkakut (ginger biscuits). Commonly pre-Christmas parties include traditional Finnish Christmas food like Christmas ham, rosolli (salad with boiled beetroots, potatoes, carrots, apples and pickled cucumber) and the potato, carrot, rutabaga and liver casseroles. The pikkujoulu season starts already in November.
My 3 years old son attended pikkujoulu in the kindergarten, where kids were i.a. singing, making Christmas decorations and baking ginger biscuits. My 7 years old son had pikkujoulu at school, another one arranged by the Polish school and the 3rd one with his colleagues from the wrestling trainings.  
There was also pikkujoulu arranged by our neighbours, financed by the housing company.
You do not need to be very social to be invited to some pikkujoulu. It is enough to be a part of some society or group of people, and actually everyone belongs to some group for which pikkujoulu is arranged. There are also open pre-Christmas parties for everyone. 
Another pre-Christmas event is "Kauneimmat Joululaulut" - traditional Finnish carol service held at the Lutheran churches. There is also tradition of the Christmas markets, where you can buy Christmas decorations, handcraft, food, sweets etc.
The streets and many houses are decorated with the Christmas lights. Santa Clause will visit us on the Christmas Eve, so the shopping centres are extremely busy. Cleaning and decoration of the house, sending Christmas wishes to family and friends, buying gifts and the Christmas tree ... sometimes I feel like it is too much to do before Christmas, but from the other side I think that the events and duties to fulfill during the Advent season keep people awake in these dark cold days.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Finnish proverbs ... Suomalaisia sananlaskuja

Finns have many proverbs, various sayings and they use them frequently.
It seems, that they have sayings suitable to almost each life situation.
I heard Finnish versions of  some international popular sayings like: "All that glitters is not gold", or "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence", but there are numerous proverbs 
I have never heard before. Here are some of them:

Suomalaisia sananlaskuja on monia ja niitä käytetään usein.
Näyttää siltä, että suomen kielestä löytyy sopivia sananlaskuja ja sanontoja lähes jokaiseen elämäntilanteeseen. On tietysti käytössä kansainvälisiä sananlaskuja suomalaisessa versiossa kuten: "Ei kaikki ole kultaa, mikä kiiltää", tai "Ruoho on vihreämpää aidan toisella puolen", mutta lukuisia sananlaskuja en ole koskaan ennen kuullut. Mainitsen niistä muutamia:

Kaikki muu on turhaa, paitsi saunominen. All is useless, except for going to the sauna.
Kahvi on hyvää aamulla ja sitten koko päivän.  
Coffee is good in the morning and then throughout the day.  
Metsä on suomalaisen kirkko. The forest is a Finns' church.  
Elämä on epävarmaa, syö jälkiruoka ensin. Life is uncertain, so eat desert first. 
Älä murehdi. Anna hevosen murehtia, sillä on isompi pää.  
Do not worry. Let the horse worry, it has a bigger head. 
Viisas oppii toisten virheistä - tyhmä ei omistaankaan.  
The wise learns from mistakes of others, the fool will not learn even from his own ones. 
Herrat ja koirat jättävät oven auki. Gentlemen and the dogs leave the door open. 
Arka mies ei saa kaunista vaimoa. A shy man will not get a beautiful wife. 
 'Konstit ovat monet', sanoi mummo, kun kissalla pöytää pyyhki.  
'The ways are many', said the grandma and wiped the table with a cat. 
 Jaettu ilo on kaksinkertainen ilo, jaettu suru vain puolet. (Olen juuri lukenut että tämä on ruotsalainen sananlasku, mutta silti kirjoitan sen alas koska on tosi hieno) 
Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. (I have just found that this is a Swedish proverb but still I write it down cause it's great)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the weather forecast :-(

Finnish newspaper Iltasanomat has published today a graphic presentation of the 9 day weather forecast in Finland. It can't be gloomier and darker. The Official Hometown of  Santa Claus - Rovaniemi is the lucky place to enjoy the Sun but temperature is -10'C.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Helinä Rautavaara museum

3 years ago I had pleasure to have apprenticeship in the Helinä Rautavaara ethnographic museum. 
I would like to write about this interesting place. 
Helinä Rautavaara (1928-1998) was a Finnish reporter, adventurer and passionate collector.
She was travelling almost constantly since 1950's for over 40years doing research expeditions to Africa, Asia and Latin America. She was particularly interested in different cultures, religions and rituals, and made extensive documentation on these subjects. The museum comprises Rautavaara's collection of ca. 3000 items like art, ritual and decorative objects, utility articles, photos, videos, audio recordings and Rautavaara's own paintings.
Museum offers also changing exhibitions, workshops and unique events for the whole family.
You can find all information on the museum website here.
This is a great place to get to know and explore different cultures, remote and isolated places, and the astonishing traditions and customs. I recommend to go there especially on the grey, gloomy autumn days, but the museum is open all year. The Helinä Rautavaara Museum is located on the second floor of the WeeGee Exhibition Centre in Espoo.

3 vuotta sitten minulla oli ilo olla työharjoittelussa Helinä Rautavaaran etnografisessa museossa. Haluaisin kirjoittaa tästä ihmeellisestä paikasta. 
Helinä Rautavaara (1928-1998) oli suomalainen tutkimusmatkailija ja intohimoinen keräilijä. 1950-luvulta lähtien hän oli yli 40 vuoden aikana matkustelemassa ja tutkimassa eri kulttuureja uskontoja, tapoja ja rituaaleja Afrikassa, Aasiassa ja latinalaisessa Amerikassa. 
Hän dokumentoi tarkasti tutkimusretkiä mm. ottamalla lukuisia valokuvia ja keräämällä esineita, jotka voimme nähdä museossa.
Perusnäyttelyssa on esillä taide-, rituaali- ja käyttöesineitä mm. Länsi-Afrikasta, Kaakkois-Aasiasta, latinalaisesta Amerikasta, Pohjois-Afrikasta ja Lähi-idästä, sekä ääniteitä, videomateriaalia, valokuvia ja H.Rautavaaran omia maalauksia.
Museossa järjestetään myös vaihtuvia näyttelyitä, kiertonäyttelyitä, ainutlaatuisia tapahtumia, esityksiä ja työpajoja koko perheelle. 
Tietoja tapahtumista saa museon internet sivuilta: klikkaa tästä
Museo on mielenkiintoinen paikka, jossa voi tutustua erilaisiin kulttuureihin, syrjäisiin/eristäytyneisiin paikkoihin ja hämmästyttäviin tapoihin. Suosittelen käyntiä värikkäässä H.Rautavaaran museossa varsinkin synkkinä syksy päivinä, mutta museo on auki koko vuoden ajan. Museo sijaitsee Näyttelykeskus WeeGeellä Espoon Tapiolassa.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I will get for Father's Day?

Years ago, on the first Father's Day spent in Finland with our son my husband asked me:
"- What I will get for Father's Day?"
I asked: "-What do you mean? Our son is 2 month old. Do you expect him to prepare some occasional card for you?"
I did not know, that in Finland parents used to arrange some surprise gifts or even a small party for Father's and Mother's Day in the name of their children. Toddlers and older kids prepare cards and make small gifts in kindergartens and schools, but there's also tradition of arranging some kind of home celebration by mother on Father's Day and by father on Mother's Day.
In Poland only children by themselves prepare something on these occasions.
The infants' parents wait to celebrate these days until their kids are bigger.
All the best for all fathers today!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Superstitions Taikausko

Being superstitious or not, depends largely on the culture where we were grown up.
In my opinion people in Poland are much more superstitious than Finns.
I noticed few worldwide known superstitions in Finland: Friday the 13th, a black cat, and the lucky ones: a four leaf clover and a horseshoe. More superstitious Finns avoid walking under a ladder, spilling salt, breaking mirror, opening umbrella inside home and hugging someone over the threshold. Killing a spider can bring rain the next day.
If these things have already happened, there are ways to reverse the bad luck. Spilled salt should be thrown away over the right shoulder, pieces of the broken mirror should be buried, hugging over the threshold should be repeated in the other place.
Anyhow I see superstitions in Finland are not taken as seriously as in Poland.
In Poland (too)many people believe, that putting shoes on the table, hugging someone over the threshold or spilling salt foreshadow a riddle.
In general too many things 'brings' bad luck, and 'getting' good luck often comes on some conditions. Eg. some people eat four leaf clovers. Barely finding it is not enough to get good luck.
Chimney sweeper brings you good luck on condition you have a button with you.
When you hear a cuckoo while having no money on you - you're gonna get financial problems.
Seeying a walking spider foreshadows getting news. The news is gonna be good if spider walks upwards, and bad if it walks downwards. If it walks horizontally - I don't know:-)
Many superstitions concern pregnant women. They should avoid walking over strings/ropes/cables, getting suddenly scared, wearing necklaces, looking at the moon, touching rabbits, wearing aprons, cutting hair, looking through keyhole and many more. You can still see sometimes a red ribbon attached to a baby's carriage to ward off the evil eye.
Im not even halfway through describing all the superstitions I have heard of, but I feel I have mentioned enough to give a general view on this problem. Yes, problem - because most of superstitions bring just distress.

Taikauskoisuus rippuu laajalti kultuurista jossa olemme kasvaneet.
Olen huomannut suomessa yleisluontoisia taikauskoja, kuten epäonnen perjantai 13, musta kissa, tai onnea tuovat neliapilat ja hevosenkenkä. 
Enemmän taikauskoiset suomalaiset eivät kävele tikaiden alta, kaada suolaa, avaa sateenvarjoa sisätiloissa eivätkä halaa kynnyksen yli. Hämähäkin tappaminen tuo sateen.
Jos jotkut näistä asioista ovat jo tapahtuneet, on kuitenkin keinoja kumota huonoa onnea.
Suojaa pitää heittää oikean olan yli, rikkinäisen peilin palat pitää haudata, kättely kynnyksen yli pitää toistaa paremmassa paikassa.
Jotkut taikauskot ovat samoja Puolassa ja Suomessa, mutta Puolassa ne otetaan vakavammin ja on niitä enemmän. 
Kengät pöydällä, kättely kynnyksen yli ja suolan kaataminen voi tuoda riitoja.
Kävelevä hämähäkki tuo uutisen. Jos hämähäkki kävelee ylöspäin uutinen tulee hyvä, jos alaspäin tulee huono. Jos se kävelee vakaa - en tiedä:-).
Onnea tuovat taikauskot sisältävät usein ehtoja:
- nuohoojan näkeminen on hyvä merkki jos sinulla on nappi mukana.
- käkien kuuleminen on hyvä merkki jos sinulla on rahaa mukana.
- neliapila tuo onnea jos syöt sen.
Aivan liikaa sisältyy taikauskoa raskauteen. Raskaana olevan naisen pitää välttää kaapeleiden ylikävelyä, hänen ei tulisi säikähtää, pitää kaulakoruja eikä esiliinaa, eikä katsoa kuuhuun, koskea pupuja, leikata hiuksia, katso avainreijän läpi ja vielä paljon muuta.
Vielä joskus voi nähdä lasten vaunussa punaisen nauhan, mikä on laitettu suojaamaan lasta pahalta silmältä. 
Taikausko on minusta asia mikä tuo vain lisää stressiä elämään. Voitte olla eri mieltä.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


According to Wikipedia 'talkoot' is a Finnish custom involving a group of people gathering to work together unpaid, for instance to build or repair something'. ... 'A talkoot is by definition voluntary'.
There are different kinds of talkoot, but I write about kind familiar to me. Our housing company arranges pihatalkoot (yard talkoot) twice a year, once in some weekend during spring and once in the fall. There used to be ordered platform, where inhabitants can store the bigger garbage unsuitable for the common garbage storage. Essential part of the fall yard talkoot is raking leaves and cutting branches of bushes. The participants are offered as compensation for their work some food, drinks (also beer or other alcoholic drinks), and sauna.
A talkoot is voluntary, but I came across many negative comments and opinions yesterday in the internet forums, as the bygone weekend was the 'fall talkoot weekend' for many Finns. Some people felt social pressure about taking part in talkoot, some wrote they experienced not nice appeal or even demand to participate, some felt angry raking the leaves, dreaming of spending sunny day in the other way. I guess it depends on the people themselves, their neighbourhood relations, and the way of the talkoot arranging.

Wikipedia mukaan 'Talkoot eli talkootyö on perinteinen suomalainen naapuriavun muoto, johon liittyy vahva yhteisöllisyyden tunne'. Luulen että kaikki Suomalaiset tietävät talkoista, siis en kirjoita tästä suomeksi lisää, mutta luin eilen verkosta useita suomalaisten mielipiteitä talkoista, ja tuntuu että vahva yhteisöllisyyden tunne ei ole aina mukana:-).
Törmäsin mm. kommenttiin, että se oikeasti ei ole mitä niin vapaehtoista kuin annetaan ymmärtää. Joskus tuntuu että naapurit odottavat osallistumista talkoisiin, tai kutsuvat talkoisiin suoraan ja vielä epämukavalla tavalla. Joku toinen kirjoitti, että on ikävää haravoida lehtiä ja paiskaa työtä kun on kaunis ilma. Mukavampaa olisi nauttia kauniista syysilmasta vaikka kävelyn merkeissä.
Tilanne varmasti riippuu ihmisistä, heidän välisistä suhteista sekä talkojen järjestäjästä. 
Joku kirjoitti: 'Pakko ei ole kuin kuolla' ja se on totta. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fallkulla Domestic Animal Farm

Fallkulla Domestic Animal Farm is a very nice place to go for a walk and to enjoy quiet countryside atmosphere.
It is surely interesting place to show to the children living in a city. You can see and stroke there cows, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, cats, rabbits and domestic birds. 
This place is also municipally owned youth centre, where young people actively take part in taking care of the animals. Here's link to Fallkulla's website in English

Falkullan kotieläintila on hieno paikka mennä kavelylle, tutustua kotieläimiin, vaihtaa näköalaa, nauttia maaseudun rauhasta. Kaupungin lapsia se varmasti kiinnostaa. Voi nähdä ja silittää lehmiä, lampaita, vuohia, hevosia, possuja ja pupuja, sekä lintuja. Se on myös Helsingin kupungin nuorisoasiankeskuksen nuorisotalo missä nuoret voivat osallistua kotieläinten hoitamiseen. Tässä Falkulan kotisivut sekä blogi.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Don't stress! Älä ota ressiä! Why Finns do not like letter 'S'?:-)

Stress is in Finnish stressi, but in colloquial language it is 'ressi'.
There's comon saying 'Älä ota ressiä' what literally means 'Don't stress' ... so letters 'st' go away.
Word 'rasittava' means 'stressfull', 'style' is 'tyyli', 'spinach' is 'pinaatti',
Stockholm is in Finnish Tukholma.
Colloquially people say: 'kato', not 'katso' as it should be. It means: 'Take a look!'
One day sth asked me: Can you play 'kössiä' and he meant 'squash'.
As you can see, letter 'S' goes away in every case.
Stockmann is established in 1862 Finnish famous, renowned store located in the very centre of Helsinki. The company Stockmann has nowadays over 700stores in 16countries. 
Name Stockmann comes from its founder's name Georg Franz Stockmann, German merchant from Lübeck.
In 2004 was founded Tokmanni discount-store chain. Nowadays it is Finland's largest and most diverse discount-store chain with 144 stores. Is its name accidently so close to Stockmann or it was purpose to make it more friendly to the Finnish customers, not only by the prices but also by the name? it's just my guess as I see the way how Finns change some of the words.

'Stress' on suomeksi 'stressi' mutta puhekiellessä se on 'ressi'. 
On myös käytössä sanonta 'Älä ota ressiä' .. siis ST lähtee pois.
Sana 'tyyli' luultavasti tuli englannin sanasta 'style', 'spinach' on suomeksi 'pinaatti', 
'Stockholm' on 'Tukholma'. Puhekielessä sanotaan 'kato' ei 'katso',
Muistan joskus jonkun kysyneen: 'pelaatko kössiä?' ja hän tarkoiti squashia!
Näkee hyvin että kirjain 'S' lähtee pois.
Stockmann on vuonna 1862 perustettu suomalainen vähittäiskauppa, maineikas tavaratalo Helsingin keskustessa. Nykysin Stockmann konsernilla on yli 700myymälää 16 maassa. Perustaja oli Georg Franz Stockmann, saksalainen kauppias Lübeckista.  
Vuonna 2004 perustettiin halpakauppaketju Tokmann. Nykyisin se Suomen suurin ja monipuolisin halpahinta-ketju ja Tokmanni-konserniin kuuluu 144 myymälää. Oliko tämä nimi keksitty tarkotuksena että kauppa on yhtä hieno, mutta vaikuttaa enemmän suomalalaiselta?

Monday, October 8, 2012

the church newspaper ... seurakuntalehti

I have found this article (photo below) in Vantaan Lauri - newspaper of the Vantaa Lutheran parish of St.Laurence. This newspaper is generally focused on the religious subjects, usually includes some inspirational interviews with various views on life etc., but obviously they try to make it more open and closer to the present-day issues. Actually why not? The article treats about religious symbols, and says how much religion is important to David Beckham - idol to thousands of the young people. In the article titled 'The tattooed chapel' we find analysis of D.Beckham's tattoos, showing among others Jesus and angels. Anyhow after seeying this picture I've checked up again the first page of the paper to make sure was it really the church newspaper:-)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Helsinki ZOO - Korkeasaari

Helsinki ZOO is situated on the Korkeasaari rocky island. You can see there many wild and exotic animals but it is also excellent place to go for a long walk and admire beautiful lanscape of the Helsinki's seashore.
Korkeasaaren eläintarhassa voi nähdä harvinaisia ja villejä eläimiä, mutta se on myös loistava paikka pitkälle kävelylle missä voi ihailla Helsingin rantaa ja kauniita maisemia.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

St. Sigfried's Church (Sipoo) ... Pyhän Sigfridin Kirkko

"Old Church" of Sipoo was constructed within years 1450-1454. 
There are not many so old buildings in Finland, so this church is really precious. 
Imagine, how many people in all these hundreds of years were baptised and got married in this place. How many prayers they brought there.
In the old times, there was a special bench situated in the centre of the church. 

Parishioners who have sinned, were obliged to sit on that bench during the Holy Mass. 
All people present in the church could see who were the sinners, and also what they did, cause there were different places on the bench for different kinds of sins. 
It was kind of redemption, paying off the sins. 
In the last picture: the new church of Sipoo situated on the other side of the road.
Sipoon vanha kirkko eli Pyhän Sigfridin kirkko Keskiaikainen harmaakivikirkko rakennettu vuosina 1450-1454.
Suomesta ei löydy monia tosi vanhoja rakennuksia, siis tämä kirkko on oikeasti mielenkiintoinen. Ennen vanhaan, kirkon keskellä oli penkki, jossa messun aikana istuivat synnintekijät syntien anteeksiantamuksen saamiseksi. Penkissä istuminen oli lunastus. Kaikki kirkossa olevat ihmiset näkivät syntiä tehneet ja minkälaisia syntiä nämä olivat tehneet, koska penkissa oli eri kohdat eri syntejä varten. Viimeisessä kuvassa: uusi kirkko vanhaa kirkoa vastapäätä.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Puuhamaa is the place worth visiting - especially with the children. The whole day was not enough for us to enjoy all the attractions there. It is the biggest in Finland park of many activities for the whole family. The official site: And here some of my pics from today:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hyvää Juhannusta!

Some pics from Tuusula from burning of the Midsummer bonfire called 'kokko' ... it's tonight. The streets are empty, shops and offices closed. Finns are celebrating the Midsummer with family and friends, often in the cottages, best when it's somewhere at the lake or river. Celebration of the light.