Finnish summer

Once again, it’s been a while since my last post. I had a short break over Midsummer and went to my fiancee’s parent’s house again. I’ve been back in Turku for a week now but have had an unexpected amount of work come in so I haven’t been able to share my photos yet. Not that I’m complaining because it means my finances are slowly getting better so the rest of this year might not suck as much as the first half did.

We’re in the middle of our Midnight Sun period right now and only when it is incredibly overcast is there proper darkness during the night. No matter how many summers I spend in Finland, I still don’t get used to seeing skies like these in the middle of the night:

Taken at 10:15 PM

Taken at 10:15 PM

Taken at 2:45 AM

Taken at 2:45 AM

And that’s in the south where the Midnight Sun is the least intense. Further north where I spent Midsummer it was even brighter.

Finland is one of the only countries left where Midsummer is still celebrated as a national holiday. Some other Nordic nations also celebrate it and I think Germany does as well, but those are the only ones I can think of that do so. Back home in the UK only Neopagens celebrate Midsummer at sites such as Stonehenge, although some people just want an excuse to get drunk at an ancient monument.

Midsummer is like Christmas part two in Finland, only without the commercialisation which many argue has ruined what is supposed to be a religious holiday.  It’s a time for family get togethers but you won’t be dragged to visit all of your great aunts and uncles or sit through a long church service. There are elements of Finland’s ancient shamanistic culture like lighting bonfires, but today Midsummer is mostly used as a break from work.

I’ve spent one Midsummer in Finland before but since it’s my first Midsummer living in Finland, of course the weather was awful all week. When I tell people here that the British summer is even worse than the Finnish one they have a hard time believing me. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to visit the summer cottage and do all the things we were planning like swimming or fishing. I also didn’t get much of a chance to take some pictures to compare with the winter pictures I took at Christmas.

These are the ones I did manage to get:

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Next month I’ll be spending three weeks visiting my parent’s house in the UK. It will be strange to be back after spending nearly a year abroad. Has it really been a year? I feel like I haven’t done that much or learnt any Finnish. Maybe that was because I had a lot of other issues to deal with this year. But I’m not planning to leave Finland any time soon so I still have lots of time to have many more Finland adventures.

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Christmas in Finland

I’ve been lucky to spend this Christmas season in Finland for the first time. In the past I’ve spent New Year’s and Midsummer in Finland a few times but Christmas was a first. My fiancee and I went to stay with his parents in Joensuu, which is much farther North than Turku and has a lot more snow.

I was a lot more excited about it than he was.

I was a lot more excited about it than he was.

It wasn’t that much different than Christmas in Britain, except that we had dinner and presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. I found this a little strange as there was nothing special to do on Christmas Day than laze around. I decided to go out for a walk, like people always talk about doing. It was minus 15 Celsius but I got some great pictures.

You can see the full set of them here, but these are some choice ones:

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I call these snow hedgehogs.

I call these snow hedgehogs.

Yes, I played on the swing even though it was covered in snow.

Yes, I played on the swing even though it was covered in snow.

A few days after Christmas we went to see my in-laws new summer cottage. Well, I say summer cottage…

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It’s being renovated right now but by summer time we should be able to visit and enjoy some fishing, swimming and barbecue.

The house is located on an island which literally translates to ‘moose island’ which is part of a remote archipelago accessed by a ferry.

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It was the first time I’ve stepped on an ice covered lake and I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be. I was worried I’d suffer the same fate as Lester Nygaard in Fargo. But I don’t think I’ll be going ice fishing any time soon.

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It’s been nice to have a break but I also want to get back home and start writing again so I can earn some money for a trip to visit the UK. 2014 has been a huge year for me with getting engaged, becoming a published writer and moving abroad so I hope to do even more in 2015. There’s a lot more I want to do with this blog, including making video posts, so I’ll be back soon.