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As usual we had a traditional cloudberry and cheese dessert for Christmas day after dinner. I’ve tried this a couple of times and I just don’t like it. Probably the only Finnish thing I turn my nose up to and I’ve come around on most so believe me I’ve tried to like it. Finns say it is an acquired taste. The same was said to me about salmiakki and ruisleippä (Finnish rye bread) and in both cases they were right- I enjoy both, ruisleippä more than salmiakki. If history repeats itself I guess I will learn to like this too. For now, it’s ice cream for dessert for me on Christmas day- works for me!
I went out for another run today to celebrate the Christmas holiday and in keeping with the time of year decided to trek up towards Santa Claus Village. Finns observe all Christmas festivities on the 24th (e.g. Opening presents, Christmas sauna, big meal, and leaving flowers on tombstones at cemeteries. But for me, being an American and as most Americans do, we always did Christmas on the 25th so I guess I was hoping to be around something holiday related today. Enjoy the photos and videos from my journey below! I know I did.
1. It was a dark and cold start to the arctic circle
2. Santa Park signs helped me make the right turn (after I ran past it- no entrance this way, had to keep going to find the pedestrian road)
4. I made it. I never get tired of this place no matter how many times I go. Guess there’s a big kid in me.
Santa Claus’s main post office is at Santa Claus Village.
And Santa’s office is here too of course (he lives further north in Finland)
That dark line of string above those poles in the photo below is the arctic circle line. And yes, those snowmen are made completely out of snow!
And don’t forget about the reindeer!
Enjoy a video, listen to the music and everyone have a very merry Christmas!
The Finns celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. Our morning starts with the usual coffee and pastries then we have a traditional Christmas rice pudding. I would post a photo but we ate it all before I could. Today is going to be full of cross country skiing for some, running for others (me), lounging for many and an evening of food, sauna, presents and a visit from Santa Claus!
Christmas 2008 has now come and gone and as I write one of my last posts of 2008 I wanted to provide a recap of the past few days that has resulted in quietness and relaxation (and close to zero blog activity.) By the way, here is the Christmas tree that will be up for about one more week.
Now, a recap of the presents. I recently made a post about gifts to bring to Finland so it seems fitting to post about gifts received from Finns. This Christmas santa had some pretty good things in store for me. Below is a photo of most of the things I received this year and if you click on it you’ll be able to roll over each item for quick descriptions of what I’m about to reference.
At the top of the photo you see a Halti box which includes a new pair of long underwear. I swear by these. It is the Active Dry model and they are awesome, especially in really cold weather and fit great under jeans and other pants. To the bottom left are two boxes of the gifts that just keep on giving: Fazer chocolate. One box of milk chocolate pieces and one box of liquer filled candies- YUM- these are coming back to the U.S. with me! At the top right is a Marimekko travel bag along with Lumene soap and lotion. Marimekko is to Finland as spaghetti is to meatballs (tried to think of the most universal reference to mean that Marimekkoe IS Finland! This is awesome and compliments the smaller make-up bag I use. In the center of the photo you can see a square thing with the name Jääkaappirunous written on it. This is a package of Finnish refrigerator magnets. These are awesome. We bought a couple of packages last Christmas when we were in Finland but we found that the package, though FULL of tons of words, only has one or two of some frequently used words so a second package is AWESOME. You can get these from just about any Finnish book store and maybe online- I tried to find them online with no luck about a year ago. To the left of the refrigerator magnets is something I wrote about took a video of from Finn Fest 2008. Pitsinnypläys (Finnish knitting) creates things like this bookmark you see. I have one from my boyfriend’s aunt who makes them and asked for another one as I find myself in the middle of multiple books at one time. I am told that the shape in the middle is in the shape of the Finnish national Flower.
The bottom few items contribute to keeping me warm. When I came to Finland this year, I forgot the one item that I should never be without anywhere in winter, Marimekko slippers. The first trip I made to Finland I bought a Marimekko Nimikko robe and matching slippers. My slippers are awesome, so awesome in fact that I was wearing them up until the day we left and zipped up my suitcase probably still wearing them…so I forgot them. I tried for 4 days to convince myself I didn’t need them BUT, I had to get a new pair and I love Christmas time when Marimekko has sales. So, it was perfect for a Christmas gift that will STAY in Finland so I’m never without them again when I visit. On the right of the slippers are by far the two best pieces of clothing I’ve ever had and the main reason I’ve been able to establish an outdoor running routine this year. Under Armour cold gear is God’s gift to runners who do outdoor workouts. Combine these shirts with this Nike tight fitting fleece and we’re in business. On top of these two items I only need to wear a light wind breaker soft shell and no part of me is cold. My boyfriend hit the nail on the head with these- AWESOME!
And last, but not least, both my boyfriend and I received what we were told were the “hip” and trendy Helsinki gift this year- Svea hats. I have no idea what it means, who wears them and their significance but apparently they are sold out everywhere! We’ll take them back to the U.S. with us and try to think of something creative to tell people about their meaning. According to Wikipedia: Svea is a Swedish female name. The name was a very popular girls’ name during the first half of the 20th century. It is also the name of the Swedish national emblem, Mother Svea.
And, a little bit of food items. On Christmas Day, December 25th, also known here as the day AFTER Christmas…strange to me, dinner is a combination of food from the previous “Christmas Day” meal on the 24th along with some new stuff. I’m not sure if it is tradition or not but it seems like we always have the same thing- it’s a meat stew, typically moose but this year it was pork, beef and one other meat. GOOD!! Tastes just like the pot roast my mom makes. Soft baby carrots, served on top of mashed potatoes. REALLY good!
Also, this was the first year she tried it but my boyfriend’s mom turned the previous days plum pudding into a pie for dessert, spreading the pudding on top of a gingerbread crust. It was AMAZING. Something tells me there will be a repeat next year. I’m having a hard time remembering what day we had this- either later in the evening on the 24th or on the 25th…Either way, it was good.
And, one of the most traditional though terribly disgusting desserts in Finland- cloud berry over cheese. I hate it and I’m not gonna lie! The cheese tastes like rubber, the berry on top is just…strange…I’m not a fan. But, it’s beyond a tradition here so it was a must for everyone else- I had fruit cocktail!
And, that’s it for the few days after Christmas. The weekend was spent “Doing Christmas” with extended family, sleeping, reading, sauna, a trip to the movies, absolute relaxation- explaining the lack of blog posts, I did nothing but read! Look for one more blog post in 2008 as we prepare our dessert to take to our New Years Eve Party!
Sorry for the late posting but after dinner last night we all kind of passed out from being so full and when we woke up later in the evening we did presents then spent time “playing” with presents and then we finished up with some late night treats and tea before bed. So, to recap the end of our Finnish christmas let’s talk about the meal. Wow, always a treat, similar to what I was used to growing up actually but the day of significance is different. Growing up, we always had a big dinner on Christmas eve (the 24th of December) and then we celebrated Christmas on the 25th with presents and brunch like food in the morning and all day lounging as relatives and friends stopped by.
In Finland, as I’ve mentioned, Christmas and all of its traditions are celebrated on the 24th so, the big meal is the 24th for them- similar spread to Thanksgiving for all you American readers who want a comparison. I’ve got TONS of photos and was able to set it all up on Flickr with descriptions of each item (be sure to roll over the photos of the food for descriptions of what everything is on the table) I’ll start with the pig- traditional Finnish meat of the meal. HUGE pig, started cooking on the 23rd and by dinner time on the 24th (around 3pm) it was ready and perfect. Here is the transformation from oven to dinner plates.
Here is the pig after just coming out of the oven, you can see the big plastic bag it is in. This is how it was cooking in the oven. The magic temperature is 77 degrees Celsius (170.6 F).
It them comes out of the bag and is covered with wax paper. Not sure why, this is just the process. Should probably inquire one of these days!
Then it is put back in the oven to get all roasted and a little crispy and the seasoning is put on the outside (again, call me uninformed but I don’t exactly know what the seasoning is)
And that’s the pig, the main dish. Now, to the rest of this great goodness. Here is our table for Christmas dinner.
And here are two different variations of plates of food. On the left is the “full” plate of most potential options for Finns (be sure to click on it to go into Flickr and roll over what each item is). And on the right is my actual plate, you can notice what is missing (reindeer and salmon- not a fan of either). You’ll notice the little glass on the top right of each photo- this is our Christmas Schnapps. Last year it was a Lakka berry this year I’m not sure what it was but it was much better though REALLY strong. How do you know you’re in Finland, this traditional shot typically starts around age 8 here in Finland. Ei Tippa Tappa- finally get to use one of my new Finnish words (one drop won’t kill you). Cheers!
And then, there’s dessert, yummy and a Finland tradition for Christmas (or at least this family’s tradition)
Plum pudding. Oh it’s is so good!
And that’s dinner for Christmas. I’m getting full again just reliving it. After this meal the entire house passed out for about an hour- kind of just like Thanksgiving (again, for the Americans)
So it is December 24th here in Rovaniemi, also known to Finns as “Christmas.” In the U.S. most of us who celebrate Christmas celebrate on the 25th though many have the tradition of opening presents on the 24th. In my family we always grew up waking up on the 25th of December with Santa Claus arriving the night before. Maybe since Santa is from Finland this is his first stop so they get the party started early. Not sure the reason. But, in Finland, today is Christmas so my posts today are all about what Christmas is in Finland. I’ll begin with breakfast.
I started my morning at around 7:30am to coffee and LOADS of pastries. My boyfriend’s mother holds off on putting out all the great treats until Christmas morning as well as all the great candy- probably because they would eat everything before the actual holiday arrived. You can see in the photo below some of the usual pastries we have as well as the full candy containers on the kitchen table- as though Santa made a little delivery in the middle of the night…these were not there when I wen to sleep
In addition to the pastries there is an AWESOME cake that I’m not sure if it is traditional but I’ve had it for every Christmas here so for me it is traditional. Kind of a cinnamon type cake and oh so very good! It is served with vanilla sauce. Oh, yummy. We’ll eat this all day!
Around 10am, breakfast was served. A traditional Finnish breakfast consists of pouridge/ rice outmeal, also known in Finnish as riisi puuro. Below are photos of the process from bag to bowl. First you combine the rice with water and whole milk and boil it in a pot (three photos below)
You then have the option of serving it with either plum raisin sauce or milk along with cinnamon and I add a little sugar in mine. The left photo as the plum raisin sauce and the right one has milk. The bottle of the plum raisin sauce is also included.
And, the last item, new to me this year, don’t think I’ve had them before- Ham and cheese rolls (ses photo below). Pretty good, not full of flavor but a good tasty treat.
And that’s breakfast. Stay tuned for more food and activities throughout the day as celebrate Christmas 2008 from Rovaniemi, Finland!
This morning we got out and about in the city. Went shopping in Sampokeskus, roamed around the new mall, Kauppakeskus Revontuli, lunch at the newly owned and designed Lordi Rocktaurant with a GREAT new menu and finished off at the largely crowded City Market to grab some Christmas flowers. This post is full of photos and videos from downtown Rovaniemi as we were out today. I’ll dedicate a separate post for the new review of Lordi’s Rocktaurant to balance out my semi-negative first, though widely popular Lordi Rocktaurant review.
Here are some photos from downtown Rovaniemi, Finland in all its Christmas glory
These photos are from the front of Sampokeskus Mall in the middle of Lordi Square
Here is video from the above area in Lordi Square
Here is a video from inside Sampokeskus Mall
And this is a chopped together video as we drive away from downtown.
Sorry for all the cars getting in the way and stopping and starting- MUCH traffic.
So, a quick update. Today was a BUSY day and I have tons of footage that I’m working to get uploaded. It’s going to take me quite a bit though so be patient. Full day of shopping, lunch at the new and very much improved Lordi Rocktaurant, photos and video from downtown Rovaniemi, Finland during the few hours of “daylight” they got between 10am and 2:30pm. And now, we’re home and beat. The photos and video from today are uploading to the net so nothing to post…yet, but when everything is ready for linking got a ton to get up. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a snapshot from my typical Finnish morning. Coffee, treats and my morning news via the computer. Stay tuned for LOTS more!
Just came across this listing of Christmas and holiday events going on in Rovaniemi currently and over the next few weeks through Christmas.
Couple of my favorites:
29.11.-14.1. Christmas Market at Lordi’s Square
Sat 29.11. at 12 Opening of the market.
Open: Mon-Sat 10 am – 1 pm and 3 pm – 7 pm, Sun 11 am – 1 pm, 3 pm – 7 pm.
Exceptions: 24.12 and 31.12. at 10 am – 1 pm.
6.12., 25.12.,26.12. and 1.1.2009 closed.
Tue 23.12. at 19 Santa is on his way… Santa Claus Village, Arctic Circle.
Santa starts his long journey to deliver gifts to all children of the world.
- IF you’re in Rovaniemi DO NOT MISS THIS- it’s a surreal experience- just awesome to watch Santa Claus fly out from Finland!
I attended last year, here are the videos:
View full post of all videos from Santa Claus leaving the Arctic Circle on December 23rd!
So, as we prepare to head up to Rovaniemi, Finland in 9 days, I thought I would try to post each day how we’re preparing. My school semester is finishing up so I have much more time on my hands which FINALLY means more blog posts. For anyone else heading to Finland over Christmas and this is your first time, you might find helpful tips and others, hopefully just pure entertainment reading (or future trips of your own to Finland). Pay attention to the list of caution gifts to take to Finland.
Going to Finland for Christmas means one thing- Christmas shopping. Shopping for presents to take to a foreign country is difficult for me because not only do I want to give something of value or interest to the receiver I also want to take something unique to the U.S. and not obtainable in said country (I have found these are fun presents to receive so I follow this model for others and it seems to work). I’m realizing as I’m about halfway through this post that I can’t actually tell you want I bought since the receivers might be reading and…well, so much for surprises. So, I’ll run thought lots of items for potential presents in hopes of hiding what I will be bringing this year.
For kids: toys that aren’t yet out in Finland are tons of fun and easy to pack, not only MUCH cheaper in the U.S. (thanks Walmart and Target and the weak dollar) so if you have room to fit them in your suitcase, you’re golden. Think action figures, popular games and battery operated gadgets. HOWEVER, if you buy something that requires batteries or makes any sort of movements- test it first- once you’re in Finland…can’t exactly run out to return it if it is broken.
For teens: Actually not sure as I don’t know any teenagers in Finland- anyone who might have some insight on this age group feel free to post a comment with your own ideas.
Young adults/20 somethings; I’ve made a post on this category before but I’ll reiterate- anything kind of trendy and unique will work. Keep in mind that Europe is ahead of the U.S. in terms of clothing/style so be careful with taking clothes unless you have some unique T-shirts. We’ve found sports items such as professional football clothing such as t-shirts and jerserys (a small following of friends in Finland who enjoy football) or professional basketball gear goes a long way especially for international stars. Another idea that’s always a HUGE hit- U.S. magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, People magazine, sports and health magazines. Same as here in the U.S., News from anywhere is always welcome because a lot of us are naturally interested and curious about what’s going on and reading the perspectives from other countries about things that interest us never fails. I always try to take at least 6 or so recent magazines with me and leave them around the house.
Adults/older individuals: We always end up scratching our heads with this group. Finns aren’t all that big on tons of “things” from what I’ve experienced and would rather have just a few GREAT things than a lot of, well I just say it…crap. And older individuals are really just happy hanging out and relaxing so they are especially hard. We’ve found wine goes a long way- and is always drunk, especially with News Years being right around the corner from Christmas; sometimes good history books or photo/coffee table books from the U.S. have been big crowd pleasers so they can always have a visual of where you’re from. Finns also love coffee so we always take some Starbucks or Caribou Coffee with us. In general, any small gesture is always very much appreciated!
For anyone: FOOD. Find something that travels well and doesn’t need refrigeration- awesome. Includes candy, treats, breads, anything (but be sure to check custom information for what you can take into the country.
CAUTION GIFT ITEMS: DVDs- Finland is Region 2 and the U.S. is Region 1. Buying the recent Transformers or Indiana Jones DVD will be a great gesture BUT, most won’t be able to watch it unless they have a region free DVD player. The BIGGEST problem though is subtitles- sometimes the English is just so fast and subtitles are needed. Be careful about video games too. Books- younger aged people enjoy these if they speak good English but if the receiver does not know very good English, they’ll smile and take it but probably not easily read it. Both DVDs and Books though you can grab in Finnish when you get there if there is something you’ve watched or read in the U.S. (or other foreign country) that you want to share. Electronics that plug into the wall or charge from wall outlets- adapters and voltage convertors are needed for the voltage difference between Europe and U.S. They are still laughing about the 2nd day of my first trip to Finland…blow dryer not exactly compatible…lost power for a bit but a new fuse (and a Finnish blow dryer from now on) and it’s all good. And, as mentioned with kids toys- that great deal from Best Buy you picked up on Black Friday…it can’t be returned in Finland if it breaks- boy do we have great return policies in the U.S. even with just 14 days!
Not much else comes to mind. If anyone has any other thoughts feel free to share! See you for the Day 9 count down post!