Monday, June 24, 2013

The Nightless Night

Juhannus is over and it´s back to normal. Luckily not yet for me, I´ll still be vacationing for a couple of days before returning back to the city. My clever I´ll-blog-once-a-day-plan didn´t work out quite as I hoped. After fighting over 1.5 hours to get the pictures uploaded on my previous post, I decided, that I don´t need a nervous break down on my vacation and took a little break. I hope it´s just because of my very slow internet connection and not because my dear Mac is coming to it´s end, poor laptop can´t handle all this blogging anymore. I have to pay a visit to the Mac-doctor next week (I can already see all the €-bills flying away….).

I´ve spent an amazing Juhannus! Good food, beach, sun and sauna (I do an exception to my normal sauna-hatred on Juhannus and sometimes Christmas, when I get into that small and hot room and somehow try to bear out the suffering from sitting in a very steamy room where one can´t even breathe without hurting. I´m not your average Finn, quite the contrary. I love ice hockey and Angry Birds, but that´s pretty much it. Blame my parents). 
Juhannus is traditionally a Finnish and Swedish celebration. It´s a celebration of the sun and summer, Juhannus Day being the longest day of the year. At least it used to be, they apparently postponed Juhannus a bit, but I´d say it´s still very bright outside. Up in Lapland the sun doesn´t set at all. Back in the day, people used to do a lot of different Mid-Summer magics, that were mostly related to foreseeing ones future spouse and marriage. It is also a tradition to decorate the house or cabin with fresh birch branches and other flowers. A very important tradition is to make a sauna vihta out of these branches. A vihta is a bouquet made out of birch branches and it´s used in the sauna to “hit” oneself  with it. Yes, you read right. Weird Finnish people, I have no defense for this, it is extremely weird. You should have seen Frenchie, talk about culture shock. Although it is weird and certainly feels weird doing it, I can´t deny the benefits. It´s a kind of a massage that gets the blood flowing and makes the skin look and feel good. Even Frenchie liked it in the end. After that you jump in the cold sea or lake and run back into the sauna.
We did our own traditional Juhannus "magic" by throwing the vihta on the roof of the house. Depending the direction where it points to, you A) die, B) find your spouse.  Finland is a goofy and funny little country.

Korppoo is a piece of paradise, total relaxation. All be it, instead of palm trees and warm water we have mosquitos and a cold Northern Sea. But nothing a little “Off” can´t fix. It´s easy to get here by car or bus, two ferries and you feel like out of Finland. There´s several options on renting cottages or go camping, if you don´t have a cabin on the island. Just Google Korppoo and you´ll find plenty of options. If someone is interested in visiting Korppoo, I´m more than happy to answer any questions. I´d Google some different options for you, if I had better internet connection.

I´m almost done with a new book, called “French Children Don´t Throw Food” by Pamela Druckerman. Frenchie and I have educated ourselves (educated is bit of an overstatement, but let´s put it that way) with the Finnish and French culture and their differences. We started of with reading “How To Marry A Finnish Girl” by Phil Schwarzmann and then we bumped into Druckermans book. She´s an American journalist, who ends up living in Paris with her British husband. She writes about the differences in Anglophone and French culture through raising children, and how the French manage to grow up civilized, blue cheese eating toddlers who can sit through four course dinners.

Both of the books are funny, especially the latter one is hilarious and I recommend it to anyone in a multi-cultural relationship. The only similarities we´ve come up so far with the Finnish and French culture is, that Paris resembles Finland surprisingly much. People are distant and tend to mind their own business. From a Danish perspective, Frenchie´s and my cultures are a lot more alike, but there´s still big differences that are well explained in the first book. So it was a very interesting read and made me respect the French family culture tremendously. I´ll see it for myself in a couple of months when going on my exchange to Lyon. I´m pretty sure the French bureaucracy will make me cry of despair in the first couple of weeks.

A perfect vacay also includes good food. I´ll post some more recipes we´ve been trying out later, but here´s my favorite so far: Mint-Hamburgers, super yummy!
You need minced meat, one egg, salt and pepper, shredded mint and chive. You mix it all up in a bowl, form it into small beefs and put it on the barbecue, depending on the barbecue about 3-5 minutes per side (tip of the day: to prevent the burgers from falling apart when cooking, put the lid on the barbecue to cook the hamburgers evenly on both sides). Nacho, the former Latino City Dog who´s turned into a full-blooded Finnish Mökki Dog, also got his share of the burgers.

Tomorrow morning we go on an island cruise to visit some of the smaller islands. Hope the weather will be good!

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