Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hyvää Juhannusta! and some pagan christian ramblings...

Paganism was widespread throughout Europe in early times and Finland was no exception. Up until the year 1316 (and so I've read, even into the 1800's of orthodox southern Karelia) the time now reserved on Finnish calendars as Juhannus was actually a celebration of nature and especially of Ukko, the sky and weather Thunder God.

The time then was called Ukon juhla. There would be Thunder festivals of light, fertility and for guaranteeing the abundant harvests. The creation of beer and the consumption of it, would hail his honour. The people would set bonfires, many, many of them and the largest would be the bonfire of Ukko itself, in Finnish it was called the Ukko-kokko. It was also a time for cleansing of the soul, in the fight against evil, as well as to celebrate the summer solstice.

This bonfire example was found on the area website.

Mikael Agricola, (c. 1510 – 9 April 1557) the father of the Finnish written language and devout christian reformist wrote in poetry about the pagan times pre-Juhannus. You can tell he didn't think much of the revelry!

Ja kun kevätkyntö kylvettiin,
silloin Ukon malja juotiin.
Siihen haettiin Ukon vakka,
niin juopui piika että akka.
Sitten paljon häpeällistä siellä tehtiin,
niin kuin sekä kuultiin että nähtiin.

Roughly translated as:

And when the Spring plowing was sown,
a toast was drank to Thunder
Thunder was sought by the bushel,
(an old measuring term for dry corn and harvest of)
maidens drunk like old women.
Then there was a lot of shame done,
as well as heard as was seen.

At the same time however, the R.C. church held the day in memory of John the Baptist and when Christianity swept the country, rather than disband the day, the old celebration was simply renamed. John the Baptist washed over the old least in name, for many celebrations continued and survived the reformation... even until this day. St. John's day however was translated into Finnish as Juhannus.

One might well ask, why St. John the Baptist was feasted on that day? It's a quarter day celebration and just as Yule time, or the now christian christmas, marks the birth of Jesus, Midsummer marks the birth of John the Baptist. Which is interesting really, to me anyway - because most Saints are remembered for their day of death (or their birth into heaven) rather than their birth into this world. Apparently his birthday is based on the Gospel of Luke and because he was said to be the prophet who was born six months before Jesus in order to announce Jesus' arrival. Hence why, John the Baptists birthday is celebrated exactly six months before Christmas. John acts as his sacrificial twin, he the dark twin of midsummer and Jesus the light twin of the winter solstice.

Being that I have pagan leanings, I find pagan shifts of dates to christian calendars interesting and I like to see the reasonings behind them... and how, in reality, the pagan aspects are still afoot! For instance in paganism the sun has two energies or personalities... there is the light and the dark god, the Oak King and the Holly King. They, as nature itself, battle over the seasons, the favour of the Goddess and the light that pervades this world through the aeons.

Some well known pagan writers have identified Jesus as the Holly King and John the Baptist as the Oak King. Remember the christmas carol... The Holly and the Ivy? There is a line which says..."Of all the trees that are in the wood, the Holly bears the crown" ...interesting eh? Anyway..I digress...

The Juhannus of todays generation is a popular time for festivals, parties and gatherings of any kind, weddings especially. Most families will, if they have one, disappear into the forests, to their summer cabin and the towns, at first maniacally busy on the day prior to Juhannus, then become suddenly and incredibly quiet! Shops are closed early at midday at the latest of Juhannusaato (Juhannus Eve) and then are closed all the day long of Juhannus. It is also, of course, a Finnish flag day, in fact it is the longest time the flag is raised during the year, as it stays up from 6pm on Juhannusaaato to stay up all night - and doesn't come down again until 9pm on the evening of Juhannus itself.

In areas close to rivers, there are bonfires set - and whilst many do not question or even realise why this happens.. it is of course harkening back to the festivals in honour of Ukko the Thunder god.

Sauna and the magical cleansing that this brings is a fond way of spending time together. In previous days, youthful, tender, verdant green Birch tree branches will have been collected from the forests and made into what is called a vasta or vihta. Or one can cheat and buy them from the supermarket, fresh...or even frozen in the freezer compartments!

These are gently whipped onto the hot naked skin, to improve circulation, it also brings a fresh, forest like aroma to the sauna. I personally love the smell of Birch. Its nice also added to the sauna water in the form of Birch oil.

Then of course... there is the manic heavy drinking that goes on at Juhannus! Being that this is the land of a thousand lakes, it is popular to go out on your boat - especially when completely plastered. Naturally, for those of us, with half a brain... this is a totally lethal combination and annually the police get prepared for the loss of life. Its always on the news at Juhannus.

Of course with Juhannus over.. the winter spirits are turning again in their sleep.. the days, now filled with 24 hour daylight in Finland will gradually, gradually lessen.. the wheel will turn and summer will give way to autumn and autumn very quickly to the snows of winter.....Holly and Oak will battle again.... but for now.. there is sun! Happy, lovely sun! Hyvää Juhannusta!

Want to make your own Juhannus vihta?

And here..just for fun some totally Finnish Juhannus alcohol recipes!
I am sure you will get the joke!

"Atlantic salmon eye"
1 glass of Koskenkorva vodka
1 blueberry......

"Reindeer Tears"

A glass of Koskenkorva vodka
A couple of cranberries.....

"Koskenkorva Coffee"
1 sugar cube

Put a sugar cube in your glass. Pour a little coffee until the sugar dissolves.
Pour Koskenkorva until the sugar cube is seen again!

Now, it has suddenly gone very dark there is also some thunder rumbling - as I finish this piece! Yay! How appropriate! Hail Ukko! (but please don't knock my internet connection off!)

DOUBLE Hyvää Juhannusta! ;D

Copyright InformationAll 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 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice!

I hope that the longest day of year, shines much Love, light, enlightenment and renewal your way!

Spare a little of your light...for the problems around us.. the pollution of our seas, our air, our minds. Direct Light wherever you feel you need to send it! Light up the dark corners of our planet!

Light a candle whether physically or metaphysically... Light = Life!

Ancient Mother I feel you calling
Ancient Mother I hear your song
Ancient Mother I see your laughter
Ancient Mother I taste your tears

I hope the day has found you sunny and glowing!
May the Noitarumpu symbol of Fertility, bless you today and always! :D

Copyright InformationAll 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 20, 2010

A Hard Day's Night at the Midnight Sun Film Festival Sodankylä

After our church event, the four of us - Amel, Janka, Sally and myself..wandered over to the site of the old Kitinen school grounds, where the Midnight Sun Film Festival was being held.

This year is the 25th annual event. Although the event is still quite primitive in many ways to international expectations, it is very popular and people come from all over.

I was quite surprised to see just how many out of towners were there.. and not so many locals really. We nabbed one of the incredibly limited tables in the refreshment area and sat down for a chat. Sun turned to a spot of rain and up popped a very delicate rainbow... can you see it? (Just?)

I held the seats whilst tickets were bought for the film we wanted to see.. 'A Hard Day's Night' 1964 with The Beatles in it. Billed as a karaoke film, there are a few karaoke films shown each year..but not all are in English. Last years big international karaoke billing was apparently Mamma Mia! They are really popular...especially at the time of day it is presented...when everyone has had a bit to drink! :D

A lovely picture of Sally, with the old school, in the background. This will be demolished soon..and a new housing development built there.. so it will be interesting to find out where the event will be held in future years.

It started to get a little cold by half past eight and as we didn't have plans to see any other films, we had to decide what we were going to do for the several hours inbetween - until the karaoke film started. The film was set for a 1.30am start after all! Although we really tried to talk her into it.. Janka decided she was already all-filmed out, having seen at least four or more - and said she was off home.

Although we were having some hilarious laughs and fun... Amel, Sally and I decided to all go home too...just for an hour and then meet up again at Amels house, for a drink, prior to the film and then cycle we could have a drink and not drive and fully enjoy the rest of the night.

I met Sally later at about 10.45pm, on the bridge, just before town and we stood there for a few seconds, enjoying the stillness of the river, which often can be quite turbulent (when it's not frozen as it is during the Winter).

And the beautiful view! This picture makes it look darker than it was though...

After sharing a bottle of vino and some nibbles at Amels, we headed back to the school site at about 1am and locked our bikes up outside the tents. That's quite an un-Finnish thing to do, locking bikes up, but I wasn't going to take any chances!

The film that was showing beforehand was The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...there had been talk of Clint Eastwood attending.. but of course, he didn't was reported in the newspaper that he said he would like to, but his schedule didn't allow. It certainly would be great to have someone wonderful like Clint visit - there are a lot of film directors that visit each year, but the icon of EASTWOOD would be a real feather in the cap!

As we queued I had the pleasure of hearing the cemetery scene music! Cool! I would have liked to have seen that film actually...but I have seen it umpteen times already! Amel admitted whilst in the queue, that she didn't think she knew that film... so Sally said she would loan her the DVD. Its a classic! Perhaps we should make another night of that!

Here, from is a brief reminder of that classic music....

When we got in to the tent it was actually just gone 2am.. they were running a good half hour late. I was beginning to get a bit fed up with the middle aged couple in front of me in the queue by that time... to the point of me bursting out laughing because I couldn't look at Sally and keep a straight face! They just couldn't keep their hands of each other! LOL! Nice really, a bit of lurve, but a bit much after half an hour!

The atmosphere was really good in the queue and moreso in the tent - which was pretty much filled up, quite amazing considering the time and the fact that it was the big tent and not the smaller one.

Sally and Amel

Amel and I

I think I captured everyone's excitement in this picture.
Can you see all the orbs?

The words appeared for the songs, in a box just above the screen. The film also had subtitles in Finnish and German. It was actually quite interesting to see how Finns translated (or not as the case may be) Liverpudlian phrases such as com ed! :D Sally and I (plus a handful of others) laughed out loud at lots of the uniquely british jokes and sarcasm!

I personally (as a Brit) found the film really interesting because of the volume of rather well know British actors and actresses in it..(most of these were probably lost on the other filmgoers) some that would only be more well known later on in their careers perhaps. Names like: Anna Quayle, Lionel Blair, John Junkin, Norman Rossington, Victor Spinetti, Derek Nimmo, Marianne Stone.... but there were so many background faces that were uncredited, that I recognised. I looked on my favourite site - A Hard Day's Night and read that even Phil Collins was in it as a member of the audience in one scene. I saw lots of faces, younger versions of.. but I don't think I caught his!

It also had the wonderful late, Wilfred Brambell (later well known from Steptoe and Son) - playing the role of Paul McCartney's pain in the derriere Grandad. A great role and just perfect for him!

It was quite sad in many ways.. to see from the safe easy seat of the future.. these young faces... and to know what happened to them during the journey of their life and for some their subsequent demise.

Athough the storyline to the film was quite limited, it was a great film, so good that its been digitally remastered with today's technology... with great humour and silliness especially from the wonderful late John Lennon! What made the film really special was the fact that EVERYONE sang their hearts out!

I was pleased to have gone and seen it 'again'... the last time was when my Mother was still pregnant with me.. (I was born January 1965) then, I tried really hard to enjoy the film, but of course everything was just a TAD muzzy, muffled..and 'hearing' it second hand..just didn't cut it! LOL!

Ive been wondering what film they might do next year.. there aren't really that many films that are musicals of well known songs these days.. in the 50's and 60's there were loads... Singing in the Rain, West Side Story...etc...Mamma Mia is an obvious choice and could be repeated, although it's already been done.... but the top contenders have to be Grease...Fame...Hairspray...Rocky Horror Show...The Commitments or The Blues Brothers (I love that one!)

This image is from the festival site itself.. lots to look at there..

Other funny events of the evening...(well, to US anyway!)

A man walking across the playground, wearing just a dressing gown and slippers! He had obviously just had a shower in the school somewhere...but not got properly dressed again afterwards.... whaat?

A TOTALLY naked man (not a nice view either) changing after his shower, in full view of everyone, outside of his little camper he had parked up on the school site. No one intervened, not even a festival steward. That could only happen in Finland and be thought of as acceptable.. which it isn't!

A seemingly dead tiny beetle on our table. I said he wasnt dead, he was just resting his eyes.. He'd had 'A Hard Days Night'.. what with being a Beatle and all.. (((oh dear.. groan...))) No one believed me, but I touched him, he woke up and carried on doing his stuff!

At Amels I was bothered by a mosquito, which I then clapped out of the air. It landed on its back, still alive-ish and wholly intact. We wondered if I could resurrect him too...I laid my hand over his body and he started spinning and whizzing around under my hand! You wouldnt have believed it if you hadnt of seen it! (Then I put him out of his misery)

Having to push down the cork into that bottle of wine, as it turned out Amel didn't have a corkscrew. We tried a couple of things, but got there eventually with the end of a fork! Sally and I were damned if we were going to not open that bottle! :D Amel, I know what I am buying you for Christmas now! :D Damned fine bottle Sally! Thanks! :D


OK.. So, finally thanks to the wonder of the internet.. I can share with you the film that I saw.. have you got a few minutes? LOL! I am sure that there is at least one LongTallSally I know, that would LOVE to see this film again! ENJOY!

Many thanks to the youtube user AndQuiteFrankly for these uploads!

Copyright InformationAll 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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The small, old, wooden church of Sodankylä

On thursday night I spent the evening with my friends Amel, Sally and Janka. Sally had been asked to give a short reading at the old wooden church in Sodankylä as they were holding multi national service at 6pm.

Forgetting the language issues, this was quite unusual for two reasons: The church holds services there very rarely and is only ever open during a brief period in the summer. It is a popular venue for weddings then though.

Some, like this couple, elect to arrive the old fashioned way.. by boat. This image was in the local newspaper a couple of years ago. Nice eh?

The church held this service in tandem with the time that the Sodankylä Midnight Sun Film Festival is being held. I don't think this service has been run before.. or at least, if it has been, I have not been aware of it. However, I am not a member of any of the church groups here. Sally however, has a little girl that goes to the mother and toddler groups and that was how she got to be involved. So, we (the international lot!) decided that we would go and support our friend.

Actually, there were only a handful of people that went.. I don't think it was well advertised to tourists, but Sodankylä is quite good at not advertising events! I guess, you could see that as part of the olde world charm.

As usual, as soon as you enter the church, you feel a dramatic drop in temperature. The little wooden church is very old, it was built in 1689! It is situated right at the edge of the Kitinen river and is sitting on top of many graves apparently.. Laplanders of old that wanted to be buried under the church. It has a lovely feel to it however and I always end up sitting there, wondering just who, over the years, has sat just where I sit. If there are any electrics in there, they are very limited and there is certainly no lighting!

As you can see from the plan, it is only small.... :D

It was renovated extensively in 1926, but fully in keeping with the area, the local workforce used only local materials - even the nails were hand made! As you can see, prior to this, the church was very weary!

One can only imagine how dark and how cold it would have been all those centuries ago for the devout folk that travelled many, many miles - arriving during the winter by reindeer sled, through the dense forests and over frozen winter rivers to join the congregation there weekly. The late well known local painter, Alariesto, painted this image of the church...which gives an idea of how it was.

I didn't like to take pictures during the service, but save to say that Sally did her speech very well! It was an interesting service, the female priest had some very interesting things to say, aimed at the normal person of today. 'God is in your rucksack, he is with you always' was one sentence I remembered. The service was in English, with Finnish, Saami and German songs. That was different! :D

The choir sang the English songs phonetically.. many of them not understanding the actual english words, so they sang the sounds as they had written them down phonetically in Finnish. I would not have known, had Sally not told me! They also did very well in the semi light.. although a few folk had mini headlights straps on their head, in order to see what they were singing.

This is the altar.

They have a lovely wooden Bear guarding the entrance too.. I love it! Well, I love Bears, especially standing Bears! This one looks SO happy!

Afterwards we went for a drink, enjoying the atmosphere at the local Film Festival. That however, is another blog!

Copyright InformationAll 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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A sunny walk at 10.30pm

It's been a beautiful sunny and blue skied day today...(Saturday) with lots of lush green leaves catching the rays.... and it reminded me that I hadn't loaded these images on to the blog. It' actually 2.43am right now as I publish this blog and it is of course light still outside! :D I've got used to it over the years.. but it is a weird phenomenon really.

These pictures are actually from a walk out with our husky Dexter, one evening a couple of weeks back. I was hoping that I would be able to take some nice pictures of Reindeer, from the Reindeer farm near us, as Mark had said that they were all, (especially the young) in stalls, close to the path the night before... but sadly, when we got there, they were no where to be seen.. all the stalls were empty... :(

The time was 10.30pm.. yes 10.30 at night! Now, we are in the time of 24 hour daylight. Soon, at midsummer it will be the 'Land of the Midnight Sun' - all being well that is.. that the clouds don't roll in!

Anyway.. now it is even brighter at that time of night than it was then (two weeks back). but still, hopefully you will enjoy the pictures and see that right now... night is not night here in Lapland at all... :D

Walking with Dexter. This is the part of the forest that is immediately behind our home. Dexter just loves it! Even more so when its covered in snow of course!

The berries were just starting to come out and say "Hi, we're alive!"

This the tree that is home to some kind of bird of prey, Mark has seen and heard it a lot recently.

Can you see up's nest? I tried to zoom in on it.

There are of course zillions of trees out there...but I found this little twee one..and it was asking... "Is it Christmas yet?" So cute that tiny tree!

Past a little house and it's sheds...catching the sun.

Then we continued around toward the Reindeer Farm and followed the security border of the airport. (Yes, there is an airport at Sodankylä...really tiny and not for commercial aircraft fortunately. Blink and you miss it). One day, I will take some photos up there to show you how small it is. :D

I love this picture! I love how the sun got captured!

Past just one of many swamps... the bright sunlight was dying by now...drabbing down for only a short while, to come bouncing back with zest by 2am!

Back on the road... and on the way home...

An unfamiliar sight of advertising... the circus' annual visit. I have a friend who is going to that tomorrow - it's rather expensive apparently, 20-30 euros per adult, but fortunately as her child is under 3 the child goes for free. It will be interesting to hear what it was like.

Home again, Home again.. jiggedy jig!

(PS. Clapping season has commenced.. the mosquitoes are out in force!)

Copyright InformationAll 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