Christmas

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Your Chance to be Featured on the Fourth Annual Blog Series!

Scandinavian_Christmas_Oaxacaborn_2014

It’s that time again. For the fourth year in a row, Oaxacaborn will soon be transformed into a Scandinavian winter wonderland — and I can’t wait!

Here are a just a few highlights from the last few years.

Of course, none of this would be possible without YOU, my incredible world-wide readers. So, what do you have for us all this year? Email me at oaxacaborn@gmail.com!

(Still need ideas? You can read more about what sort of Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas topics to submit, or click here to see the entire Scandinavian Christmas archive.)

Scandinavian Summer

What is Midsommar, Noc Kupały, and Juhannus?

midsommar midsommarafton via mokkasin
Image Credit: Midsommarafton [midsummer] via Mokkasin

One midsummer when I was probably eleven or so, I remember spending the weekend at my great-grandparents’ lakeside cabin in Upper Michigan. The scenery everywhere up there looks exactly like this, even though these photos are from Finland, and not Michigan. Fascinating, isn’t it, considering how many Nordic immigrants settled in the Upper Peninsula?

Brett Seward
Image Credit: Sweden in summer by Brett Seward

That weekend, in between carving my name in the paper-white bark of birch trees, eating sour wild strawberries and floating in the cold lake, I remember the Finnish-language program Suomi Kutsuu playing on the little living room TV, showing what seemed like endless footage of a bonfire slowly burning in the middle of the lake. I didn’t put two and two together then — I wasn’t what you’d call an observant child — but I was at my great-grandparents’ place over Juhannus!  Although you might not know Juhannus by name, you probably know Swedish midsommar, and you most certainly know summer solstice.

Midsommar crown
Image Credit: Crown by Mendocino Floral Design via Style Me Pretty

In the northern US states of Michigan or Minnesota, both around latitude 46° N, the summer solstice marks a magically late sunset — no wonder I didn’t get much sleep that weekend! Can you imagine midsummer’s eve in Stockholm or Helsinki, at 60° N? Incredible, the daylight must stretch on forever! [As a comparison, Orlando is at 28.4° N, and Oaxaca, where I was born, is even further down at 16.9° N)

Midsummer traditions vary among different Northern European countries, but my favorites are the lake bonfires, or kokko, of Finnish Juhannus, the floral crowns of Swedish Midsommar, and the glittering floating lanterns of Poland’s Noc Kupały.

Although a sky full of lanterns or a water’s edge bonfire might be a bit hard to pull off where you live, you can still celebrate midsommar. Do you have plans this weekend? Maybe you’ll celebrate with a maypole and a Swedish smörgåsbord (pickled herring and dill potatoes!), or maybe you’ll gather flowers and make a pretty floral crown.

Or, maybe, your nod to the summer solstice will simply be tossing and turning, wishing you’d purchased blackout drapes. ;)

However you celebrate, god midsommar!

Christmas

SCANDINAVIAN & NORDIC CHRISTMAS :: 3rd Annual Open Call for Christmas Submissions

NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS for the 3rd Annual Scandinavian and Nordic Christmas Series on the Oaxacaborn blog! (Carl Larsson image) 

It’s October, and already, I’m seeing a big spike in Christmas-related searches. (You all really, really love Christmas posts.) Can you believe it’s almost time for the Third Annual Scandinavian & Nordic Christmas Series? It’s crazy that we’ve been doing this together for three years now!

If you’re a new reader, every year in November and December everything goes Christmas here on Oaxacaborn. And not just any Christmas. We celebrate all things Scandinavian and Nordic, and during these next two months the blog will be full of Jul with brilliant guest posts by bloggers, photographers, writers from around Northern Europe.

We’ll talk about advent calendars (julkalender and adventskalender, that is), traditional celebrations and foods, wrapping paper, decorations, meals, dinner parties, ornaments, and Christmas trees. We’ll delve into snowy winters and traditions and we’ll light candles in the windows and we’ll deck the halls with red and white (and blue and yellow, and blue and white, too).

The most amazing part to me about the Annual Scandinavian & Nordic Christmas series is how all of you — all of us — come together to make this happen. For the last two years, people from all over Europe and the US and have shared beautiful Decemberish photographs and words with Oaxacaborn readers, and it’s you who have made this series the success it is today.

If you participated before, you’re welcome to share again! If this is your first time, we’re so happy to have you. (You don’t even need to be Scandinavian or Nordic…just a lover of Christmas and the northern traditions.)

Maybe you have a tutorial on how to create a Swedish heart. Maybe you want to share how your family celebrates Finnish Independence Day. Maybe your Christmas dinner table last year was stunning, and you want us to see. Maybe you live in a Scandinavian or Nordic country, and you want to send photos of your town’s or family’s celebrations. Maybe you have a memory of your grandparents and how they passed down the traditions to you. Maybe you’re an absolute pro at curating images, and you want to send a round-up of (properly credited) Christmas images. Maybe you’re a knitter who creates Icelandic sweaters. Maybe your Norwegian heritage shows proudly every time you get out the Christmas decorations. Maybe you want to show how the streets of Copenhagen look in December. Maybe you want to share some Christmas legends and lore. Or maybe you have a killer mantle display and want to share the wintry beauty.

Remember, we’re celebrating all things Nordic and Scandinavian, all November and December. So in addition to Christmas (of course!) this series also aims to showcase any national holidays or celebrations happening during that time leading up to Christmas, too.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the previous Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas posts here, and then email me, oaxacaborn@gmail.com.

(Content which you’ve already published on your own blog is perfectly fine. And remember, the posts don’t have to be lengthy – a single inspiring image is excellent, as well.)

Can’t wait to hear from you. :)

Hyvää Joulua! God Jul! 

Christmas

NORDIC CHRISTMAS :: A Finnish Country Christmas from ‘Punainen talo maalla’

Remember the Finnish Country Christmas I showed you on Thursday? The blogger behind those photos, Hanne of Punainen talo maalla [the red house in the country], is here today to share her love for Christmas!

“Thank you Gina for inviting me to write about our Christmas time here in the little red house. I live in eastern Finland in the countryside with my fiancee and our two Parson Russell Terriers Onni and Veeti. I have always been a “Christmas person” but after buying this house I fell completely and utterly in love with the season.
Christmas photos from Red House in the Country Punainen talo maalla as seen on the Oaxacaborn blog
I start my Christmas countdown around midsummer and during the autumn, Christmassy things are finding their way to our decor. After all, the best thing about Christmas is the wait.
2 - Christmas photos from Red House in the Country Punainen talo maalla as seen on the Oaxacaborn blog
I prefer a quiet and old fashioned Christmas. Our house is almost 100 years old and I often think that these log walls have seen so many Christmases. My Christmas includes Christmas carols, candles, good food, good friends and spending time with the family. And of course, chocolate!
Christmas photos from Red House in the Country Punainen talo maalla as seen on the Oaxacaborn blog
We always have a real Christmas tree, and this year I´m going to get two of them=) We bring the tree in a few days before Christmas Eve, because I want to enjoy the scent and the atmosphere the tree brings well in advance. I have a wish that some Christmas I could go for a horsesleigh ride in a snowy forest. That would be a dream come true! Hope I can make it happen someday.

I want to wish you all a very happy Christmas!”

Thank you, Hanne! Hyvää Joulua!

Punainen talo maalla blog  | on Facebook

Christmas

NORDIC CHRISTMAS :: A Finnish Country Christmas

2 - Nordic Christmas photos via Red House in the Country Punainen talo maalla

Nordic Christmas photos via Red House in the Country Punainen talo maalla

3 - Nordic Christmas photos via Red House in the Country Punainen talo maalla
I love these delightfully Christmas photos from Finnish blog Punainen talo maalla. (Doesn’t the dog make you laugh? I love it!)

Be sure to check back here on Sunday, as I’ve asked Hanne, who writes Punainen talo maalla, to stop by and share a Nordic Christmas guest post with you all!

Christmas

CHRISTMAS :: Finnish Christmas Traditions (Hyvää Joulua!)

I have Finnish great-grandparents, but never knew them, and I don’t know much about Finnish culture and traditions. So I’m excited that my lovely friend Annika of Hei Moose is here to show us what Christmas looks like in her home country of Finland, starting with Independence Day — today!

Finnish Independence Day / Itsenäisyyspäivä

The whole December is exciting and busy time in Finland! Already on the 6th of December we celebrate our Independence Day (itsenäisyyspäivä) and a celebration is held at the presidential castle where many public figures, foreign diplomats, celebs and even ordinary Finns (who have done something great during the year) gather to celebrate. The celebrations are broadcast live on the Finnish TV and can also be viewed online here, which is what many Finns living abroad like myself will be doing on that day. Two candles are also lit on a window sill to remember those who died in the war.

Two candles for itsenäisyyspäivä on window sill - photo via Studio55.fi
Image Credit: Studio55.fi

Lucia Day

Soon after the Independence Day, the 13th of December is the Lucia Day. It is said that Lucia brings the light in the dark and is the symbolises light as she carries (live) candles in her hair. The Lucia and her train go right through Helsinki.

St Lucia Parade - Helsinki, Finland, photo via Petri Pusa

Image Credit: Petri Pusa

Christmas Preparations

The Christmas preparations should usually start well in advance and include a proper tidy up of the house, sending Christmas cards, preparing food (such as baking gingerbread men and gingerbread houses for the well advanced chefs, baking plum tarts, getting the ham sorted etc.) and taking part in the ‘little Christmas parties’ thrown by companies, friends etc. Lots of glögi i.e. mulled wine is consumed and it doesn’t always have to be vodka fuelled either.

Gingerbread house via Fine Little Day

Image Credit: Fine Little Day

Christmas Peace (Joulurauhanjulistus)

Christmas is celebrated on the Christmas Eve (24th Dec) in Finland. Some people may have to work on this day but many will have taken the day off. By 12 o’clock all tasks should be finished and the Finns traditionally turn to watch TV as the Christmas Peace (joulurauhanjulistus) is announced in Turku, the oldest town in Finland. The message is a peaceful Christmas to everyone (literally the people living in the town of Turku).

Christmas Peace in Turku, Finland - Photo by Veli-Pekka Suuronen

Image Credit: Veli-Pekka Suuronen

Christmas Day

The Christmas morning is started by a rice porridge that is had with cinnamon and sugar. There is also one almond in the porridge and the person who gets it can have a wish. In our family there are more than enough almonds for everyone!

The Christmas tree may have been decorated already earlier but ours is usually brought in on the day. Our tree decorations are of the traditional Christmas tree style, i.e. all sorts of decorations together regardless of the colour or the style. The Finns traditionally top the tree with a star but recently I’ve also seen angels sold in the shops. A wreath is also hung outside the front door, although they may not be as massive as seen in other countries. Also external lights are very modest compared to for example some of the British displays. Other traditional Christmas decorations include for example straw mobiles. The typical Christmas flowers are amaryllis, poinsettia and hyacinths.

During the day and the early evening the Finns visit the cemeteries to light candles for the loved ones that are no longer with us and actually the cemeteries look very beautiful with hundreds of candles in the darkening evening.

Finnish Cemetery at Christmas by Jussi Hellsten Photography

Image Credit: Jussi Hellsten

Christmas Meal

Families usually celebrate Christmas together and might even go to a sauna before the festive meal. The festive meal is based on tradition from farmer houses when the times were tough. The main meat is a ham roast that is usually prepared in advance by roasting the ham in the oven overnight (in a low temperature). There are also always 3 different casseroles of carrot and rice, potato, and swede, many different fishes including gravad lax and herring salad.

Recipes for a Traditional Finnish Christmas Meal - Photo by Studio Fotoni

Image Credit: Studio Fotoni via Finland.fi’s Christmas Recipes

Finnish Santa Claus

In Finland we are great believers in Santa Claus, which is a no surprise seeing as he lives in Finnish Lapland, in a place called Korvatunturi! The departure of the Santa on the 23 rd is even shown on the main news and apparently the clip is shown worldwide. If there are kids in the family, the Santa usually pays a visit and always asks if the children have been good. The smaller the children, the earlier the visit takes a place.

LIST OF FINNISH CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS - Photo of Finnish Santa Claus in Rovaniemi - Photo by Finland SantaImage Credit: Finland Santa for SantaTelevision.com

The rest of the evening is spent together by playing games or watching tv etc. Traditionally there are also Christmas night church masses.

The Christmas day is a quiet day in Finnish families and traditionally the Boxing Day is for visiting families and friends. This is also for ‘Tapanin Tanssit’ Stephen’s Dance and people are allowed to go to dance; there are even particular ‘Tapanin Tanssit’ in some bars.

Hyvää joulua – Happy Christmas from Hei Moose!

Christmas

CHRISTMAS :: Call for “Scandinavian Christmas” Blog Submissions

I’m planning a Scandinavian Christmas series!

Scandinavian Christmas Tree via antlivinorregrdImage via Lantliv i Norregård

In case you think it’s crazy to talk about Christmas already, well, December 25th is actually THIS. CLOSE. Can you believe it?

The Scandinavian Christmas post I did last year on the topic is my number one most-viewed and most-pinned post of all time — year-round, not just during the holidays — so I’m excited about an entire dedicated series.

So, do you have photos of your home to share?

Or perhaps you’d like to contribute a blog post on Scandinavian Christmas traditions?

Or maybe you’re a fellow admirer of Scandinavian Christmases, and want to share a brilliant round-up of wintery Nordic images (properly sourced and credited, of course)?

Or maybe you live in one of these countries and want to share your experiences?

Email me oaxacaborn at gmail dot com to be included in this great series!

Guest Blog, Summer Vacation Tour, Travel/Moving

TRAVEL :: Finland with Annika of Hei Moose: A Stop on the Summer Vacation Tour

I can’t quite recall how I first “met” Annika, but I am fairly certain it was something to do with her post about Finnish winter traditions, in which she mentions split pea soup. ;) This might seem a rather dubious connection, but having Finnish blood in me, and having a particular aversion to split pea soup (although I ate it for years without breaking the news to my mother, who seemed to love making it for us!), it really does make sense. :) I’m thrilled to have Annika here today!

ANNIKA WINSTANLEY FROM FINLAND

A little more about Annika
I’m from Finland! Going to a summer cottage is part of Finnish life and many Finns have their summer cottages by the lake – no surprise as they say Finland is a country of a thousand lakes! I live in the UK these days and run my own online shop, Hei Moose that sells cool Nordic baby and children’s clothes. I chose this location [views from a summer cottage in Finland] to feature as, although my home town Helsinki is the World Design Capital 2012 and absolutely beautiful, Finland’s got much more to offer!

Finland - Scandinavia - Finnish Summer Cottage

Annika’s top things to love about Finland
I love Finnish Summer cottages by the lake. This place in southern Finland is absolutely stunning! I’ve taken these photos at night, except the one that is during day – the Finnish summer nights are amazing as in June it doesn’t get dark at all as you can see, the sky just goes a bit red! Finnish summer cottages have saunas and it’s good fun to run straight into the lake from a hot sauna. During day the main thing is to be lazy and relax. The possible activities include rowing on the lake and catch some fish, prepare food and maybe play some games and of course to heat the sauna!

Finland - Scandinavia - Finnish Summer Cottage - Finnish Summer Night over Lake

Finland - Scandinavia - Finnish Summer Cottage - Finnish Summer Night over Lake

Finland - Scandinavia - Finnish Summer Cottage - Finnish Summer Night over Lake

You are welcome to visit my shop at www.heimoose.co.uk and my blog www.nordicmumsnotebook.wordpress.com. -Annika

This post is a part of the Summer Vacation Tour, a virtual travel series hosted here on Oaxacaborn.com. To ‘travel’ to other locations while I’m taking a brief break from blogging, click here. (Want to be featured in the future? Email me!)