Saturday, November 29, 2008

Its OFFICIALLY the Christmas season in Sodankylä

On friday night, the 28th November, it was the Christmas parade and official opening of Christmas..or in Finnish.. Joulun avajaiset!

Now, I have been here for the past five Christmas' BUT this was the first time I went to it. Why? LOL....because I didn't know it ever happened before! I first found out about it on the youtube website this summer. How ironic is that? I had to find out on the internet about something that happens down the road!

The trouble with event advertising here, is that a) the majority is in Finnish and b) it is VERY limited. It is kept on the whole, to either a local newspaper called the Sompio, that comes out twice weekly - subscription only - OR the sodankylä council website. Unless you know about both, you don't really know of these things so easily. Then of course you need the Finnish to understand it! LOL... Now that my Finnish is improved and my understanding of the area is better also, I can actually find out about more things going on locally. Which is great.

One would think that other people would tell me, but in the beginning we didn't know that many international people (that has only grown of late since our Finnish language course and more nationalities coming here) You see, most Finns don't have a habit of telling you anything, unless they are asked outright. It's a curious habit.. even real basic things...unless you ASK.. they won't say! I've had this confirmed by some international thinking Finns.. so it's not just me imagining it apparently.

Anyway, I found the event listed on the Sodankylä events website and let my non Finnish friends know. I jumped in the car with my english friend Sally and her baby - which saved me from a very snowy walk! It's been REALLY snowy the last few days. In the car was another lady that I'd not met before - she is from India of all places! She is here for a year with her husband and arrived in October. Despite the lift, I had my thermal top and leggings on, jeans, a jumper, a fleece waistcoat, my coat, a hat, scarf, two pairs of gloves and two pairs of socks on inside my boots! :D I might have looked bundled up.. but I wasn't cold... and I was NOT hot either! Just right. :D

There are now a lot of mini christmas trees on the light-posts, all with simple white lights on..and lots of snow! The main tree is on the roundabout at the centre of town. It was quite odd to see so many people together on the streets of Sodankylä.. although naturally, it wasn't as busy as would be seen at other Christmas events worldwide.

I called my Indonesian friend Amel, in case she was around in the crowds ..only to find out that she had forgotten about it. By the time she got out and met me, the parade had already gone by.. but then.. it was INCREDIBLY short! LOL.. and to our amazement there was no 'Joulupukki'! (Father Christmas) No reindeer, no sleigh, no Santa... WHAT?? We couldn't believe it! Sally said last year that Santa had made it...very strange - where WAS he?

Sorry that these pics are dark.. my camera is not so good in the dark!

Sally with her baby under wraps and Purnima

The parade .. walked from one end of town to the other, with a police van in front.

There were about eight fur clad figures, dressed as bears, polar bears, snow queen etc..

Then there were two distinct groups of children.. dressed as 'Tonttu' (Elves) one group very young, the other around ten years or so.

Then there were Saami ladies. Some kicking their Potkukelkka's (kicksled)

... and THAT was it! :D In my birth hometown of Bournemouth, in the UK...there are lots of floats, lights, Santa even Reindeer! LOL.. Again..quite ironic!

This is a potkukelkka! You can slide on the ice and snow with it and have a child or shopping on the front seat.

Sally and Purnima went on ahead and I held back for Amel. Then we walked on to the congregation area.. behind the tourism offices and the Alariesto Museum-Gallery 'Museo-Galleria Alarieston'. There was held, the much better part of the event.. where all those in the parade would dance for the opening of Christmas!

The bears were still around... the Polar bear was great! I love bears! :D

There were several dances by the groups and inbetween was a short interval where a bear and a person would communicate introducing the 'story'...

The cute little elves danced to the Finnish version of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer - Petteri Punakuono (which actually translates just as Rudolf Red Nose) and a Finnish version of Jingle Bell Rock! Considering the youngest looked only about three or four.. they were really brilliant!

The Saami girls were lovely..and so joyful when they were dancing. They were having great fun! It started quite slow, to the beat of a noitarumpu drum..then sped up in pace. Remember they are dancing on snow.. with lots of snow falling! Quite a feat! Just as well they are wearing their reindeer fur, curl toed boots!

These three happily posed for me. I think it's great just how proud they are of their national identity and their dress. My son, Jake.. who seems to know everyone... says their names are Kaija, Johanna and Suvi - I hope I have that right. Nice girls...Lovely photo!

Here is Amel. She has her own blog too.. which you can find in my links. It's a totally different read to mine. She is a lovely, sweet person and this shows in the way she writes. She also has links to learning Finnish. She was an english translator in Indonesia.. and has taken to Finnish like a duck to water! Really clever! She has helped me a lot with mine! Thanks Amel! (Hope you had a nice 30th Birthday on Saturday!)

And FINALLY there WAS Joulupukki.. after the music and dancing ended..there he was - sat on another Potkukelkka! :D

There was also free Glöggi (mulled wine) although I expect it was the non alcoholic kind at a family event.. and piparkakut (Ginger biscuits) but we came on home then.... It was a nice event and I will probably go again next year.. NOW it feels like Christmas is starting! Hooray!

"Happy Snowy Christmas everyone!"

Here are links to youtube to see videos of the event too! Mine are the first three.. a bit dark again.. but you get the idea.
And this one that Amel did...