Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Nothing says Christmas like Finnish emojis

#4 of this occasional series

The Finnish emojis have humorously rebranded some of our Christmas icons.

The series began because Finns claim the original Santa as their own. You didn’t know he is actually from Korvantunturi, in Lapland? And you thought it was the North Pole — silly you. This emoji represents the feeling of never-ending wait for Santa.

At Christmas there’s a special pastry, called joulutorttu. The Finland site This is Finland describes it as the feeling of having one too many. “Every year you burn your mouth on the first one — beware of the plum jam in the middle! The sweet taste and nostalgia make up for it.” (More on this and other Finnish Christmas customs—see my posts in December 2015.)

A pikkujoulut is the Christmas party emoji, in which Finns depart from their quiet selves and become wild party animals.

Rounding out the set are five more, that describe feelings during our long winters.
Wooly socks — the feeling of granny-made warmth — are worn while skiing or while sick, like a Finnish national costume, and even with flip-flops. (Remember Fashionista Finns, in post #3?)

A sleeping bear — wanting to sleep all winter. “Sometimes when the long dark winter seems to stretch endlessly ahead, you just feel the bears have a point in hibernating.”

The feeling of sunless days — that period between December and January is called kaamos.

Stuck” is that very universal experience of putting one’s tongue on metal when it’s freezing outside. You    know you shouldn’t — but you try it anyway.

Four season BBQ and “Meanwhile in Finland
both express a sense that temps around 0°C seem warm — and we see folks wearing shorts, even people sunbathing, because we’re sooo tired of winter.

Ahh, yes, winter.

Monday, October 3, 2016

And more emojis — which mystify me

#3 in this series of 4

Here are more Finnish emojis — these express characteristics I don’t know much about. Or am I just not seeing the truth?

Torilla tavataan — The feeling when something so great happens you just have to share it with somebody. “Although Finns are not crowd-loving ‘samba people’ by nature, when something great happens, we Finns head for the market square. There’s one in every city. If Finns win an ice-hockey tournament, a singing contest or pretty much anything, the market square is the place to go.”

Matti Nykänen — the feeling of bon voyage. “Matti Nykänen, the world’s most successful ski jumper ever, has introduced some of the well-used catchphrases for Finnish language. We say ‘every chance is an opportunity’ or we estimate the percentages with ‘fifty-sixty’ share. One thing we know for sure: ‘life is life.’ ”

Karjalanpiirakka — the feeling of craving something delicious. Karjalanpiirakka is a traditional pasty or pie originally from the region of Karelia. It is a rye crust usually with a filling of rice porridge. The original topping is egg butter. Karjalanpiirakka is eaten all over Finland at all times and occasions from breakfast to weddings.” Serious yum.

black gold (has to be chocolate!)

Finnish love — “Finnish love is often quiet. Finns won’t shout about love to the world. Actions speak louder than words. When we do love someone, it’s deep — very deep.” (The old joke — about the couple who hadn’t said the words “I love you” for over 50 years, because it had been said once, and nothing had changed — comes to mind.)

Happiness — the feeling of winning [over] our lovely neighbor Sweden in anything.

Iceman — the feeling of “Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing.” “This Finnish attitude was made famous by the Iceman himself, Formula 1 driver Kimi Räikkönen, who quite nicely sums it all up.

Headbanger — the feeling of banging your head. In Finland, heavy metal is mainstream. “There are more heavy metal bands in Finland per capita than anywhere else.”

Unbreakable — “Finns are tough, almost unbreakable. Finland has produced quite a bunch of unbreakable and long-lasting items such as the old Nokia 3310 phone which is famous for being, well, unbreakable.”

Lost hopes — the feeling of getting your hopes up. Every time. “Finland is
notorious for its lack of success in the Eurovision Song Contest. Each time we wait for a win but get zero points. So to get back at them we entered a band of monsters in 2006 — and won.”

I need a bit of clarification to understand these better —
a trusted friend,
pusa hispidi saimensis
the voice, the conductor and the king.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

More Finnish emojis--is that me?

On August 15, 2016, I wrote about sauna-and-summer-related Finnish emojis, which This is Finland began sharing last Christmas. 
I admit to being slow on the uptake here — I downloaded them on my phone but have to reset something to make them operable (Rats!).  
This post continues  #2 in the emoji series, with two more posts after this. The traits these emojis catalog are not hidden very deep in me, as family and friends will attest.

 With white clouds and blue skies, summer lakes and snow drifts — the Finnish flag, of course.

Handshake — the feeling of trust. “Finns can be almost ridiculously law-abiding and trust others to do the right thing. We say what we do and do what we say. We shake hands on it. It’s a deal.”

Peacemaker —Martti Ahtisaari, the former President of Finland from 1994-2000 and United Nations diplomat, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for his efforts to resolve international conflicts on several continents and over more than three decades.

Reindeer — for mixed feelings. “Finns love reindeer — in all forms. Reindeer are useful animals in many ways. They are cute — but reindeer stew is delicious. You eat it with mashed potatoes and lingonberries.” That describes “mixed feelings” pretty well, I’d say.

Girl power — Finland was the first country in the world to give women both the right to vote and to be elected. Finnish women are highly educated and full-time employment is the norm. The pronoun ‘hän’ means both she and he.

Suomi mainittu — “the feeling when someone mentions Finland abroad. Finns are always excited when someone — anyone — mentions Finland abroad. When you come to Finland, be prepared to tell what you think about Finland and Finns.”

Coffee — Turns out Finland consumes more coffee in the world than anyone else.

Waiting — “Finns respect the privacy and personal space of others, and expect the same in return. We tend not to sit down next to anyone if another seat is available. When talking to a Finn, don’t stand too close — unless you want to see a Finn slowly edging backwards.” This is why we sit so far apart in church, then?

Fashionista Finns —  socks with my sandals seem so practical... 

And a few more — Moomin Mama (of course you've read the Moomin books),

baby in box (extensive baby supplies which Finland provides to all new parents in a sturdy box which the parents often use as a first crib!),

kokko (one amazing bonfire)
and the cap (to honor graduates).

Aren’t they fun!! Visit This is Finland to download them.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sauna emojis—plus others that celebrate summer

In December 2015, This is Finland unveiled nearly three dozen emojis, poking fun at themselves with a wry sense of humor. No other country has followed suit.
Since making them available one each day for a month in an “Advent calendar” style, they have added another dozen and a half.

Of course “sauna” (with both genders) was included — it’s the one word from the Finnish language that’s part of our dictionary. Both sauna-goer emojis show the individual steaming up on a wooden bench, holding a ladle with a handy bucket of water nearby. They look fairly alert — maybe because they’re only on the first round of their three-round löyly.
The country has 3.2 million saunas for its 5.4 million people. Every one of them has her/his own way of going to sauna, which will cleanse both body and mind and body. Spirit too, amazingly — sauna is a holy place as well for Finns.

Sauna whisk (which I wrote about on this blog in great detail from June 29, 2014, through August 10, 2014, — nine posts altogether!)

Because it’s summer, here also are:
Forest — the longing for fresh air and silence.
With millions of forested acres with mushrooms and berries, people are allowed to pick at will. “It’s called ‘Everyman’s right.’ ”

Dad’s favorite superfood Blueberries

White nights in the land of the Midnight Sun,


Out of office lazing in the lake,

Pesapallo (see my entry for August 14, 2015, on the Finns’ way to make this game uniquely theirs.)

And don’t forget sisu, which they describe as the feeling of perseverance.

“In Finland, as the saying goes, we ‘go through even a grey rock.’ Arctic nature has given us guts — or ‘sisu’ as we call it. It’s about not giving in — even when it might be wiser to do so…”

I do identify with this trait, probably to the chagrin of my loved ones.

These emojis are so much fun, I will share more of them in later posts. They’re free to download — check your app store for “Finland emojis.”

#1 of this series — there’s a lot more to share!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

A too-long sauna? Oops

Bill, my best-est sweetie and sharp news reader, found a sauna item in the sports section of the July 23 Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Sauna, shower don't provide intended result.”
Russell Martin, a Toronto Blue Jays catcher, had relaxed during an extended sauna at his personal residence. Then, taking a cold shower, he passed out and fell, injuring his knee. 
Afterwards, he reported feeling “woozy” from the long sauna—a bit scared from the experience— and recalled feeling weak during sauna previously, but had never lost consciousness. Because of it all, he will miss a couple of games. Bummer.
I've overextended myself in the sauna three times. When “wooziness” hits, I now know to quickly get out and get prone. Then I tank up on water and don't return for more rounds of sauna that particular day. 
 In these hot days, stay hydrated, and full of potassium. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Little Box Sauna in Big Box Land

In days of yore, a family sauna was a community gathering place — people socialized before or after their turn on the benches. 

Public saunas were thriving commercial ventures that filled both cleanliness and social needs — the Kangas Sauna in Thunder Bay, Ontario, served meals to those waiting. 

Places like the Ely Steam Sauna (in Ely, Minnesota) drew “regulars.” Over the years, people built their own home saunas, so public saunas declined in business in most cities.

But now a new form of public sauna is filling a niche — the Little Box Sauna in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Little Box Sauna is the brainchild and work of two architect/designer women, Andrea Johnson and Molly Reichert, who masterminded this “mobile hot spot” — a portable sauna at locations around the Twin Cities metro area, like the Nicollet Mall, Como Park, Ikea, Radisson Blu, the Mall of America. 

They see sauna as a way to foster community, especially in winter. So they responded to that need — and received a grant in “creative placemaking” to make Little Box Sauna happen. 

Their sauna holds about 8 bathers. It's a beautiful structure whose exterior is adorned with charred wood. Because it's in metro areas, it's heated by propane. Check their blog to see the stages of it being built, and the places it's been. 

It's also being promoted through the 612 Sauna Society, (from a Minneapolis telephone area code). Swimsuits are worn — it's a co-ed group and public. A few workers refill water containers and keep the fire going. 

One can get free reservations for 90-minute steam sessions. When the free ones are used up, paid reservations are available ($16 per person). They seem to go fast.

While people in my age group respond to the health benefits of sauna, a younger demographic is finding connectedness — sauna is becoming a new social media. Is this cool or what??



Friday, April 15, 2016

Who loves a sauna?

Gwyneth Paltrow, after she's traveled and needs to refresh, that's who. 

In an interview with The New York Times in mid-March, she named sauna as one of her tips for overseas or long trips. What she told Kristyn Burtt, Lifescript Entertainment editor, was:
“When I land, I try to find a sauna to sit in for 20 minutes to help me sweat out all the germs from the plane.”
She also owned to enjoying a bit of alcohol on overnight flights (It calls to mind that old Finnish adage: “If sauna, whiskey or tar do not help, the disease is fatal.” She still has one more cure to go, though she appears to be going a different direction than tar.)

But it's nice to know she's found how sauna can refresh us.  

This is #2 in an occasional series on famous folks in the sauna.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cruise ship sauna

#1 in a series of Unique Saunas
We took a cruise in January. Early on our first day on the ship I checked out the saunas in the spa area. There were two spa areas, one regular and one a fancy setup, called a thermal package. 

The thermal grotto package included use of an elegant (ceramic tiled) sauna, two different aromatic steam rooms (one had aromatic vapors, but only 10 minutes' steam was recommended) and “rainforest” style showers. 

The thermal grotto included tiled lounges that were heated. (Comfy, yes, but maybe hard to cool down there.) The package included a private sanctuary pool for paying spa guests.

After I heard the dollar figure on the thermal package, I became less entranced. But the facilities were lovely. At the beginning of the two-week cruise, unlimited visits to the thermal grottoes went for $179 per person; the price dropped to $119 after a week.

One night (while we awaited the 1,800 passengers stranded in Punta Arenas, Chile, to reboard our ship) it was quiet. I decided to take a sauna — the regular sauna, not the expensive thermal package. 

When I arrived, a trio of Japanese women told me the traditional wood one “wasn’t that hot, but the steam room was much nicer.” For them, but not for me — I was on a reporting mission. 
Both were available within the women's locker room area (men also had their own). Everything in the regular steam room was tiled, and a lot steamier. 
The traditional sauna was commodious, at 10 feet by 10 feet perhaps, with three tiers of wooden benches. It would have been hard to add water to the rocks, though I didn’t see the sign prohibiting it. A drinking fountain was some distance away but there were no cups or dippers or easy ways to carry water. I didn't think to bring a water bottle.

As the only sauna-taker, I stretched out on the top bench, first checking the temp (77°C) and the humidity (10%). Then I flipped the sand timer and enjoyed a 30-minute relaxation. Ahhh, life is good. 
There were plenty of regular showers nearby, but still it was hard to cool down. (Sorta like the one at Grandpa Ivar’s when we had to get dressed too soon to allow the next partakers their turn.) Another time I would come prepared to take a dip in one of the swimming pools (which were on a deck below).