Monday, December 10, 2012

My first week of December

So I have survived my first week of December  The coldest it has been was -27oC on the 4th and the warmest it has gotten is a boiling -5oC. So as you can imagine I have been experienceing a different kind of weather than back home. I have even had my beard turn white and freeze, which was interesting to say the least. My upper body has been wrapped up very well with layers, however my bottom half has been suffering, so we recently bought two pairs of thermal underwear.

So the white stuff has arrived and not going away any time soon. Tanja and I got off the bus the other day and walked from the local hospital home (about 600 metres give or take) and I made a snow angel, which I instantly regretted on the count of how cold I got very suddenly. We also walked though about 2 feet of freshly fallen snow for no other reason than because I wanted to. Then Tanja attacked me with snow to the face, the joy we both had that night, even though we were freezing by the time we got in.

This past week also saw Itsenäisyyspäivä (Independence Day), a very important day in the Finnish calender and history. For the first time since the 12th century Finland became free from any controlling body (it had been part of the Swedish and Russian Empires). When the October Revolution gathered steam and had taken over most of the industrialised part of Russia, the Bolsheviks issued a declaration for rights of self-determination, which included secession. On November 15th 1917, the same say as the Bolshevik declaration, the Finnish Parliament issued a statement claiming sovereign rights for Finland. A Declaration of Independence was drawn up and was formally accepted on December 6th 1917. The newly formed 

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic officially recognised the Republic of Finland on January 4th 1918, being the first country to do so. However the newly formed Republic was not to be left in peace, only 52 days after they became a sovereign nation, a bloody civil war erupted. However that's for another blog.

So what happens in Finland on Independence Day? Well for starters almost everywhere closes, of course the usual essential services are open. There is also parades held at war memorials around Finland and a big religious service held at Helsinki Cathedral. I attended the Oulu parade at the memorial, it was very cold and we were stood outside for only 30 minutes but standing still meant it felt like longer. Various groups laid wreaths on the main memorial and 2 other memorials in the cemetery. I noticed that Finnish Soldiers march a lot differently to British soldiers, I thought it looked like they were swinging their arms in a joyous manner. 
The current President and the three previous ones with their spouses. The last time four Presidents were together  at the ball was in 1974 (I think)
Father and Daughter
All suited and booted

So not much more has happened (that I can think off). Oulu river is frozen over but not enough to walk on, the sea is also starting to freeze over. Winter is truly set in now.

We also watched the Finnish classic, Tuntematon sotilas (Unknown Soldier), a film adapted from the novel of the same name by Finnish author Väinö Linna. The film revolves around Machinegun Company's experiences during the Continuation War of 1941-'44 between Finland and the Soviet Union. The novel is based on Linna's own experiences from the war. It may be fictional but is considered to be realistic, very gritty and shocking in places.

The highlight of the day is the Linnanjuhlat (Castle Ball), a reception held at the Presidential palace. It is broadcasted on TV and many Finns get together and watch the some 2000 guests (this year there was 1,800) line up and shake hands with the President and First Lady whilst criticising the dresses that people wear. I have to say there were some interesting gowns present and I did enjoy the 'show' but didn't understand a word that was being said.

The previous day I had attended with Tanja a concert held by a Military Band, it is in honour of Veterans of Finland's wars. The theme for the night was Finnish Composer Jean Sibelius. I really did love the performance.

I also got turned down for a job for the first time. I was a small term job at the place when Tanja and I got married. They wanted someone who was fluent in Finnish, but it's ok, these things will happen but something will come up. I did make my first €30 though, which was an upside. Myself and a Friend did a Build a Burger lunch at a local University project called the Business Kitchen. We only had 20 people interested when we went to buy the stuff on the Tuesday (4th) but had 30 people turn up on the day and everything was eaten. We noticed a few things that we will need to improve upon next time, like more plates and cutlery. Better service times and sittings, an more equal control of the product. We are hoping to do a tex-mex day in the first few weeks on January. So with that money I took my wife out to a Chinese Buffet. It was very nice but I felt so stuffed at the end of it. We also got out 'Brave' from the video shop, a good movie but the storyline wasn't that original.

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