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for National Geographic News
January 4, 2008
Ice-skating—the oldest human-powered means of transportation—was invented in Finland not for fun but for survival, according to a new study.
Skates made from animal bones have been found throughout Scandinavia and Russia, including some that date back to around 3000 B.C.
The wide dispersal of the ancient artifacts has made it difficult for archaeologists to pin down exactly when and where ice-skating first developed.
Now scientists from Italy and the United Kingdom have calculated that people living in what is now southern Finland would have benefited the most from skating on the crude blades.
The researchers showed that people traveling across the region’s frozen lakes reduced their physical energy cost by 10 percent.
By contrast, skaters in other northern European countries would have had only a one percent energy reduction (see a map of Europe).
“People developed this ingenious locomotion tool in order to travel more quickly and by using not as much energy as if they had walked around all the lakes,” said study co-author Federico Formenti of the University of Oxford in England.
The study appears in this month’s issue of the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society of London.
Southern Finland has more lakes within 40 square miles (about 100 square kilometers) than any other region in the world.
“I think ice-skating happened in [this] area because of the several long and thin lakes that people had to cross in order to get around, hunting for food or for any daily activity,” Formenti said.
“Those lakes froze during the long winters, when sunlight was there only for a few hours per day.”
So I found myself a little bored today so I decided to piece together some footage I took just roaming to and from the city. In the span of four hours we watched the sun rise and set- it was great though- first time it came out in a few days and was just absolutely beautiful reflecting off of the white frosted trees.
I threw in a little audio as well because I decided to get a little creative. Sorry about the choppiness- didn’t want to put in TOO much time Great views of downtown Rovaniemi though. Check out the new lights they put in on the main street next to the city (they change colors though I’m not sure if you can see them changing in this video. ENJOY (and thanks to U2 for supplying the audio track
So, it occurred to me that there are people who might travel from the U.S. to Finland to visit friends, family or to just look around. I thought of a few things that you might want to consider bringing as gifts if you want to make an impression (notice I did not say good because depending on the people, this list might not be conclusive or accurate- bring at your own risk These are just what I have come to know from my experiences.
For the mid 20s to 30s young adults and couples we like to bring things that they can’t get in Finland:
- Alcohol in the form of American wines or even our American beers such as Budlight (for a conversation piece) or stronger varieties and local brews
- Coffee (we usually bring Starbucks but not everyone is a fan- stick with the lighter roasts and be aware if you are visiting people who aren’t too keen on mass marketing products and chains…such as Starbucks)
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. of American local sports teams if they are fans. If they are into American football or you are a college student at a widely known university, grab a T-shirt with your school name and colors. Many younger adults (even older adults) love to wear that stuff because it is just different (My boyfriend’s family has TONS of Mizzou and KC Chiefs stuff and will soon have lots of Minnesota stuff as well
For adults/older people:
- Similar items but a greater emphasis on wine or alcohol. Finns are complete drunks or anything but it is no secret that they like to drink and wine for most is always appreciated
- Coffee…again, same rules apply (coffee country)
- Art books with pictures etc. of architecture or landscapes from the states- something original and different like coffee table books. We have brought my boyfriends parents books on the St. Louis Arch- built by a Finn but also the city I was born so there is that personal connection. We all like to look at great pictures of great places so play with those ideas
For children: One word- CANDY (never fails!)
- Lotions or pretty candles
- Chocolate or sweets made in one of your favorite places that you want to share (something Finns like but also something about you and where you come from)
- My boyfriend’s mother loves Bath and Body Works so I never leave home without at least one bottle of lotion (usually whatever the new scent is!)
- Sweets or foods/recipes to give or make them- though keep in mind you won’t be able to find all ingredients. We ALWAYS bring pancake mix to make fluffy pancakes- they don’t have them. Finns make a version of pancakes (more like griddle cakes) but they aren’t like walking into iHop. Great for a snack or dessert- don’t forget the syrup!
Every time I come to Finland I work out at a local gym. I just can’t go more than two weeks without some type of exercise. The first couple of times I visited Finland I went to a gym that has in the past two years moved further away from downtown (can’t remember the exact name off the top of my head). But in May, 2007 and currently, we have a found a gym that is GREAT for short term stays (a few weeks) in Rovaniemi, Finland.
The gym is called Kuntokaruselli and it is located just a few blocks from the downtown center (Sampokeskus is straight and a quick left from the photo above) and you can view the line of the river from outside of the front door (directly on the other side of the street from the photo below. Here is a link to the exact map location (http://www.kuntokaruselli.com/yhteystiedot.htm)
What is great about this gym is for short term membership you can get a set of ten one time passes for 90€ for adults/ 70€for students (converted to dollars it is about $130/$100 as of Jan. 2, ’08). Last May, my boyfriend and I each bought a 10/day pass for 70€ each (we were here for about a month and worked out a couple times a week). And this time, because of Christmas, we only had about ten days for working out so we purchased one pack of 10 for 70€ and split it (5 passes each for $50 a piece- student prices).
This is such a great thing because every time before that I came it was always such a hassle to try and find a place to work out without paying the daily fee (about $12-$15 each time when converted to euros) and with this there is nothing to sign, you just pay, get your passes and give one each time you go. It is also a really good gym. You can view the website to see more (Finnish only: http://www.kuntokaruselli.com). For English readers: two treadmills, three bikes, couple of elliptical machines, free weights and machine weights and a stretching/floor exercise room along with locker rooms)
If you’re looking to exercise on a short term basis this place is GREAT!
The sun at its highest peak in Rovaniemi, Finland winter (Jan. 2nd)
Originally uploaded by frozenreindeer
Why is this picture significant? Well, it was taken on the river off
of downtown Rovaniemi, Finland at about 12:30pm in the afternoon.
This is the most of I have seen of the sun the whole time I’ve been
here and this is as high as it would get (until it set around 3pm).
Winters in Finland are long and the days are short. The sun will rise
(if you call this rising) around 11am until it reaches its peak (case
in point) around 12:30pm and then it starts to go down at 2:30 until
it is out of sight completely around 3:30pm. Yeah, it’s a little
tough, but you get used to it. The days are already starting to get
New Years Eve/Day in Rovaniemi, Finland (part 3- the aftermath)
Originally uploaded by frozenreindeer
The end of the party. Cider, beer, coffee mugs, blueberry pie and the
other remains of food and empty glasses. My boyfriends’ new R/C
helicopter even made a quick cameo. Notice the addition of one
Budlight bottle courtesy of my boyfriend from the U.S. (not a native
drink in Finland
Happy 2008 everyone! Hope it was a safe one!
It is officially 2008 in Rovaniemi, Finland and it came without a hitch. At 6pm yesterday evening, fireworks began sounding from every corner of the city as that is the official time when it becomes legal for fireworks to be shot off for New Years. And they are definitely not cheap. You have your average loud firecrackers but as we drove from my boyfriend’s parents house to our New Year’s Eve get together in the city we had our own little mini show of fireworks illuminating the sky on our route. It is really quite something.
From 8pm-2am we celebrated the coming of the new year with friends, food and a variety of wines, beer and cider (I stuck with the cider, the only alcohol I really enjoy consuming). Our hosts served a large variety of really great food from veggies (carrots, pickles, cucumbers, squash, etc.) with dipping sauce to green salad with chicken, bacon wrapped carrots, pesto pasta salad and some other items that were all really good.
The night progressed with a random mix of conversations considering that everyone at the table had some connection with a large variety of cultures other than Finland such as study abroad experiences in the U.S., Italy, London, multiple languages acquired from various jobs. It all mixed together to create a great environment for me, the sole, native English speaker- though the switch to Finnish was pretty quick the few times I went to the bathroom. As a foreigner in a country that speaks a language different than your own you realize pretty quickly how thankful you are of people who do their best to make you feel comfortable by speaking in a manner than includes you in the conversation (either by translating or speaking primarily your fluent tongue). Though I am learning Finnish I am nowhere near the point where I can carry on a casual conversation in Finnish and feel fortunate to be able to spend time in Finland and not feel like an outsider amongst friends.
The night progressed to midnight when TONS of fireworks began going off as we could view from our friends’ windows and hear all around us and we toasted the new year with a glass of champagne and continued with our drinks. The last round of food was a pot of chocolate fondue with sliced bananas and red peppers (I stuck with the bananas) and a pot of nakki (hot dogs in Finnish). We headed home around 2pm, the fireworks had finished mostly by then (though I slept with ear plugs for the late night after shocks.
Today we are going to most likely lounge around the house, watch movies and probably make a trip to the Arctic Circle/Santa Claus Village as that is the only place that is open today next to a couple local gas stations/mini marts and video rental stores. Lots of Russian tourists visit this part of Finland during this time so they spend lots of time and money taking arctic tours in the city which is why the shops at the Arctic Circle will be open.
There is no traditional New Years Day meal in Finland but I’ll follow up with a final (part 3) post later this evening to sum up the events that take place.
Enjoy the New Year!