Saturday, June 20, 2009

More on midsummer...

I found this today at the YLE news website and just confirms what I was saying about Finland being very quiet during midsummer and alcohol consumption!

And sadly, this one too.. every year there are statistics for drink induced drowning... sad.

Copyright Information

All content, unless otherwise noted, is © ArcticRainbow and may not be reproduced in any form without express permission from the author, except for credited links directly to articles or to the main site. (I don't bite...just ask!) :D

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hyvää Juhannusta / Midsummer / Litha

Here in Lapland, Juhannus is already in full swing!

Technically friday is Juhannusaato (Juhannus Eve) and everyone is out celebrating, having sauna together and getting drunk! Today there are very few people working.. it is similar to a Bank Holiday - classed as a holy day and on saturday.... Juhannus itself, EVERYWHERE is shut within Finland!

We've been out today visiting the family of my younger son's girlfriend... and on the way home, by the side of the main road are dotted the occasional log buildings. I say its a main road, which it is, but it is naturally heavily forested area either side and not that busy at all - in fact so dead today, that I don't think we saw even another car on the way home - and it's a good 3/4 hour journey! There was one building, that we noticed on our drive out.. although we knew what it was, we remarked on how much it looked like it was on fire, with smoke oozing out of the logs.. but it was actually an outdoor log sauna.. on its own in the field - a long way from any other building. On the way home, several hours later, were seen five large men, brightly red hot in colour, sat outside with just a white towel around their lower halves...around a camp fire, having a good drink. This is the style of Juhannus! Never mind the mosquitos...sauna, fire, drink! :D "Hyvää Juhannusta!" (Happy Midsummer!) - Wish I'd have had the guts to stop and take a pic of them!! :D

However, I found some great images at this link
The header image and many other stunningly beautiful photographs are located here

The Finnish flags are flying everywhere and of course, there is no night to be seen for several weeks yet.. and so everyone will be up for the majority of the night.. if not all of it! If you are walking home from an event at 2am, 3am, 4am or what ever... it all looks the same as if it were 4pm for example! It takes some getting used to as it can seriously mess up your body clock if you let it.

I will leave you with an image of Tupasvilla...(Cotton grass / Eriophorum vaginatum) in bloom in most swamps now!

View more here..

May I wish you all.. a very happy and safe Midsummer where ever you are!

This from Wikipedia:

Before 1316, the summer solstice was called Ukon juhla, after the Finnish god Ukko (The God of Thunder). In Karelian tradition, many bonfires were burned side by side, the biggest of which was called Ukko-kokko (the "bonfire of Ukko"). After the celebrations were Christianized, the holiday is known as Juhannus after John the Baptist (Finnish: Johannes Kastaja).

Since 1955, the holiday is always on a Saturday (between June 20th and June 26th). Earlier it was always on June 24th.

In the Finnish midsummer celebration, bonfires (Finnish kokko)are very common and are burnt at lakesides and by the sea. Often two young birch trees (koivu) are placed on either side of the front door to welcome visitors. In Midsummer night the sauna is typically heated and family and friends are invited to bathe and to grill.

In folk magic midsummer was a very potent night and the time for many small rituals, mostly for young maidens seeking suitors and fertility. Will o Wisps were believed to be seen at midsummer night, particularly to finders of the mythical "fern in bloom" and possessors of the "fern seed", marking a treasure. An important feature of the midsummer in Finland is the white night and the midnight sun. Because of Finland's location spanning around the Arctic Circle the nights near the midsummer day are short or non-existent. This gives a great contrast to the darkness of the winter time.

Many music festivals of all sizes are organized on the Midsummer weekend. It's also common to start summer holidays on Midsummer day. For many families the Midsummer is the time when they move to the countryside to their summer cottage by the lake. Often Finns spend the whole of July at the summer cottages. Midsummerday is also the day of the Finnish Flag. The flag is hoisted at 6 pm on Midsummer eve and flown all night till 9 pm the following evening.

Copyright Information

All content, unless otherwise noted, is © ArcticRainbow and may not be reproduced in any form without express permission from the author, except for credited links directly to articles or to the main site. (I don't bite...just ask!) :D

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy 'would have been' 100th Birthday today....

To my Grandad. Gerald Clement Grant - born 15th of June 1909.

He was one of identical I should also be saying Happy Birthday to my late Uncle Ron too! Grandad is shown above in the only image that I have of him digitally. This photo was taken on the day he gave me away in July 1988.

He would have been 100 today had he still been alive. However, he died when my eldest son was only 5 months old.. and now he is aged 18! (Where do the years go?)

An odd thing happened to me today, really odd, which is why I decided to share this birthday fact......

I was at work, with my head in a computer, when all of a sudden, I heard someone talking out in the corridor. I was pretty sure it was Finnish, but I was in that sort of 'zone' where it could have even been English.. but the tone of the voice suddenly caught me. My god I thought.. that sounds like my Grandad...and it really did.. in fact, I wouldn't have been at all surprised if he had walked in through the door of my office! For a split second, I thought he was out there.. OMG, it was REALLY weird.

As soon as I clicked on the voice, it was gone. Was there someone out there that sounded like him.. or had I picked up on him? Had I zoned into another frequency? (It wouldn't have been the first time I've heard voices from spirit).. and no I don't need locking up! LOL!

I settled myself back in to my chair and looked at the date. Suddenly I remembered that it was his birthday today and that my Mother had reminded me recently that he would have been 100.... Ohh it felt r-e-a-l-l-y weird ...

So, if you can hear me Grandad. 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY in the BEYOND'....

Sorry, no message from the Queen! :D

Copyright Information

All content, unless otherwise noted, is © ArcticRainbow and may not be reproduced in any form without express permission from the author, except for credited links directly to articles or to the main site. (I don't bite...just ask!) :D

Sunday, June 14, 2009

All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of yesterday....

I recently built in borders to my front garden, so I've been having a buyers fun time out, in the dept of:

Home and Garden>Gardens and Gardening>Plants Seeds and Bulbs


It's a great place. Free to list, with many great features - which include - listing in any currency you need, up to seven images per listing and a free shop area. Plus it is only 3% commission when your item sells.

Anyway, today, I have been buying lots of seeds to fill and decorate my garden with. It's so GREAT to see so many seeds and plants being listed and that plant and seed sellers with sense, from around the globe, are looking to the virtues of the site to trade on!

A few weeks back, I purchased some of these Painted Lady Runner Beans from the seller lynsgarden and they are already doing very well out there! Not one failed.. PERFECT! I grew them indoors initially, starting in the sauna, then the bathroom, then the balcony once it wasn't so totally cold. Even still, since they have been in the borders, we have had cold days with some light snowing.. nothing that settled though.. and they havent been bothered by it. The photograph above, is from some while back now.. soon I will show some more current images.

So far I have everything growing to plan, runners, peas, spring onions a small herb area and sunflowers. I also have some boxes of flowers hanging over the balcony: Allium Shoenoprasum, Painted Daisies (Chrysanthemum Carinatum), Ostrich Plume mixed Asters, Gypsophilia and Gazania Sunshine Hybrids.. all doing ok, but still fairly small and a way off flowering yet. In the meantime I bought a whopper of a hanging basket to stave off my desire for some colour!! :D The next thing on the list is to try and seed some grass into our pretty patchy and confused tiny lawn outside our home....

The only things that have yet to do much are some Parsley, Currant Tomatoes and Catnip in pots...Sweetpeas that are in between the runners and mini parsnips.. but I don't hold out so much hope for the parsnips as they were old dated seeds, but I thought Id give it a go anyway.

My most recent purchases have been from

Ive just bought... Kale and Broccoli

Tequila Sunrise Snapdragon

Canterbury Bells and Polemonium,
Lupins and Siberian Dianthus

and Poppy seeds!

I've also bought some Stunning Fringed Poppies from the seller, Lunar. What a nice lady she is.. she has even given me a freebie of some Aquilegias seeds to try out! Both she and Heavenscent are curious to see how the plants will fair under a different climate. That is partly what I love about the site.. the sellers actually have personalities, they are interested in communicating with you, working with you and helping you out. The site management is the same too! Truly refreshing!

It will be interesting to see if everything grows quickly enough with the short seasons of Lapland...albeit with our 24 hour light of Midsummer. There isn't so much sun around right now though.. quite overcast.. but I guess the plants are still getting some nutrients from the light. When it is sunny though, it does get very hot here. My only other bother is the HUGE mosquitoes that are swarming off the bogs, you get attacked by them as soon as you go out the door.. Today it chucked down with rain.. most unusual for us to get loads of it.. and my Sunflowers took a bit of a battering, but they seem ok. Just the back drop to them is splashed black with soily mud! Great!

This really is my first year as a gardener of any kind.. so it's all totally new to me!! :D

Oh yes... My tomorrow is going to be colourful!
Yet, what else can you expect with ANY of your purchases at - it's a blooming great and blossoming site! :D

Copyright Information

All content, unless otherwise noted, is © ArcticRainbow and may not be reproduced in any form without express permission from the author, except for credited links directly to articles or to the main site. (I don't bite...just ask!) :D

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Help to save Polar Bears with petition!

This is something we can all do.. .so come and help.. do your bit please.
Just a minute of your time, to help these wonderful creatures!

Urge Congress to Permanently Protect the Arctic Refuge!
Target: U.S. House of Representatives
Sponsored by: Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to caribou, snow fox and millions of migratory birds. It is also the most important onshore denning habitat for America's vanishing polar bears.

But this natural treasure is constantly under siege. Time and time again, the oil industry and their allies in Congress have sought to open this special place to harmful new drilling, threatening all of the wildlife that depend on it for survival.

We need to permanently protect the Arctic Refuge! Tell Congress to reject drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to permanently protect this special coastal plain.

Copyright Information

All content, unless otherwise noted, is © ArcticRainbow and may not be reproduced in any form without express permission from the author, except for credited links directly to articles or to the main site. (I don't bite...just ask!) :D

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Sorry that this particular blog is late. I've had flu in the last week (no piggies involved!!) and spent a fair bit of time in my bed! I am much better now thankfully!

Anyway, to catch up, as promised here are some pictures. Last saturday, our youngest 'finnished' school! :D He is very pleased to say the least as he hasn't really enjoyed it much - although I know he will miss some of his friends. His particular class was populated with many children from the outlying reaches, some coming in to school from a distance of 50-60kms... therefore those children (or should I say young adults!) will find it harder to keep in touch and are less likely to bump into each other on the street.

It was an unusual service, different from anything in the UK, but sadly I don't think anyone past the first few rows could actually see anything that was going on - which is a real shame. I don't know why they didn't use the stage, it would have made sense..but there must have been some reason, I guess.

Naturally, there were speeches, of which we didn't catch everything that was spoken and it didnt help that we couldn't see what was going on - or that several parents were chatting around us..(probably bored) Oh well... There was also a cameraman filming it all from the only real gap where you might see... in the case you wonder who it is in the photos! Apparently it is possible to purchase a dvd of the event later - I guess for those who couldn't see.

The highlights:

1. The classes being given their leaving certificate and a red rose. ( Yes, even the boys.. got a flower. There is no way on earth that would happen in the UK.. ) I thought it was quite nice really.. but am not sure that our son agreed though! As the students names were called out, if they were a girl they had to courtsey and if a boy, they had to nod their head. Each class stood in a row to the front of the hall and it was difficult to see really. I had to hope for the best, that I caught his image on camera.. so I just held the camera up in the air above my head.. and fortunately I did.

You can just see him receiving his rose from Anna his form teacher. He is wearing a black shirt. (There are no school uniforms in Finland) Before her, was the Headteacher who handed out the certificates.

2. The teachers all singing at the end of the ceremony. They sang to the pupils...that they had done their part as teachers and now it was over to them, wishing them well in life. It was nicely done and well sung. We heard that song fully, whereas the others we didn't because the music was louder than the singers, plus I had a clear view of Anna, the 'luokan-valvoja'.

That title translates literally as class watcher but might also be similar to form tutor - a Teacher who is your reporting teacher, but doesn't necessarily teach the pupils in a class) Anna is actually the handicrafts teacher, but she has been very helpful and considerate of our lad and his particular issues and problems. Our youngest, is a strong minded, vocal individual, so I expect she is a more than a little bit glad that he has graduated! Having said that, she did tell me later that she was quite sad, as this year was her first group of students to leave.

There were stipends given ranging from 50 to 100 euros, financial gift awards donated by local groups to certain children of merit. One boy won 100 euros for good attitude towards schooling Another girl got two stipends, one from a Saami group because she was studying Saami. These stipends were kept secret until the day itself.. and those that won looked really surprised! I thought one was going to faint from shock! Fellow pupils cheered as names were called out for stipend winners.. it was really nice to see how others were genuinely pleased for their fellow classmates.

After the ceremony ended, there were photographs to be taken.

Our son with Anna

3. A card from Anna, handmade. Roughly, it translates as: Care a lot for people when young. When you have grey hair you need lots of wonderful memories. For congratulations and success in your life! Anna This was inside his folder that they gave him, accompanying his certificate.

People stood around outside the school, chatting and saying their goodbyes.

Photographs were taken with friends.

With some of his class

Then there was a small meeting of his class..(there was only 17 students in his class) we left them to it and watched from a distance. There was lots of hugging and emotional farewells going on, not knowing when next they'll meet! Sad really...

(You can just see that the Finnish flag was flying too)

And here is what it was all about.. His 'Todistus'/ Certificate of Proof.

With the official Sodankylä rubber stamp!

Here is our fine fella... The pics taken later at home.

Although there was no mention on the day, of a foreigner in their midsts, an English boy coming through the whole school, nor the success of his achievements in learning Finnish, we as his parents are rightfully PROUD of him.. and state it here clearly so no one is unsure. This is no ordinary feat. He even speaks with a Lappish lilt!

Now, he waits to find out which of his course choices are accepted, for when he goes to Ammattikoulu (Profession School) in August. Right now? Well, like most kids.. he is just enjoying the Summer holiday. We just need some Summer weather to go with it really.. although saturdays event was a gloriously sunny day, the last week has seen a fair bit of light snow and hail! Brrrr....

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Well Done!! We are proud of you!!

Copyright Information

All content, unless otherwise noted, is © ArcticRainbow and may not be reproduced in any form without express permission from the author, except for credited links directly to articles or to the main site. (I don't bite...just ask!) :D