Saturday, April 30, 2011


This weekend is a big celebration here in central and northern Europe – it’s a traditional spring festival, celebrating the end of the long winter and the beginning of spring. It’s named after Saint Walburga and the day is known in Swedish as Valborg. Walburga was canonized on May 1, 870 so the celebration is strongly tied to May Day.
Valborg is one of the biggest festivals held in the streets of Finland's towns and cities. The celebration, which begins on the evening of April 30th and continues to May 1st, typically centres on drinking mjöd (mead), sparkling wine and eating donuts. In our area, there are masquerades to celebrate Valborg also. There will be some who have bonfires in the evening on April 30th.
An important part of a May 1st gathering is the ceremonial donning of the student cap (graduation cap), which stems from the time when students wore their caps daily and switched from black winter cap to white summer cap.
A May 1st picnic with people wearing their student caps. Photo from Wikipedia – I don’t know these people.
Our school had a masquerade party on Friday and here’s how the Holm kids showed up:
Mattias as a Sumo Wrestler.
Joel as a convict.
Sofia as a Punk Rocker. (No way was she going as a princess)
and, a close-up of the face details . . .
Tomorrow is actually May 1st, and we have a lot going on . . . to be updated later!

Monday, April 25, 2011

spring has sprung

Today, Easter Monday, I took the youngest 3 children to the zoo.
It’s pretty much a day trip because it takes 2 hours to drive there.
We had a great time . . . the weather was fabulous (+22C/71F) and we just enjoyed ourselves taking a leisurely walk around.
Sharing Easter eggs with the wildlife.
Even the bears enjoyed the sunshine today.
PS I was playing around with Lightroom today for the first time . . .thus the funky effects on some of the photos!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen!

What a beautiful message Easter holds for us!
Our day started with Easter baskets followed by an egg hunt outside.
In the afternoon, we went to the big city to watch an Easter Passion play: 7 Dygn i Jerusalem (7 Days in Jerusalem). Fantastic music – I got goosebumps.
After a stop for dinner, (Joel couldn’t eat all his pizza)
we came home and wound the day down.
Despite the fact that there’s still snow on the ground, we are enjoying some lovely weather!
This year’s Easter Do!
Happy Easter!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

easter saturday

Since Finland has a state church, Christian holidays are well recognized. On Thursday, schools were let out early to recognize skärtorsdag/Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus.Some businesses also closed early. On långfredag/Good Friday, everything is closed and many churches have special services. However, as far as secular traditions go, Saturday is the big day for kids in these parts. It is the day they get to dress up and go around collecting candy (similar to trick or treating). The main differences are:
  • the children usually dress up as witches (which actually look more like old ladies than the North American idea of a witch)
  • the children hand out homemade Easter cards or branches decorated with colourful feathers to the homes they visit
  • this is done at any time during the day (usually between 10am and 3pm)
Of course, since I haven’t grown up with these traditions myself, they don’t come so easily for me. . .  I haven’t allowed my kids to dress up as witches (even though they’re cute witches with freckles and such) because I just can’t reconcile that symbol with Easter. And, I usually forget about the cards and branches so they’re usually done at the last minute (today I was away with Sam, so the little ones had nothing to hand out . . .).
Without further ado:
My Easter chicken – she used an old milk canister for collecting.
My Easter pirate (which also isn’t very Easter-ish).
That’s it for now.
Hope you are enjoying your Easter Saturday

Monday, April 18, 2011

mamma match

This afternoon was the dreaded long-anticipated Mamma Match for Sofia’s floorball team.
It’s when the team plays against their moms. It’s the last thing they do of the season.
That’s me in the green shirt.
I realize it looks like I am totally hip-checking that small child, but really, I was only reaching for the ball.
Some people have been wondering what floorball is . . .  it is quite similar to floor hockey, only the sticks are more aerodynamic . . . and the goalie is down on the floor (and uses no stick).
We lost . . . but it could be because the ref scored for the kids or he blew the whistle to change strings every time we were setting up to score (he’s their coach) . . . or maybe it had do with the goal that was scored while I was in the penalty box (for tripping . . . my own daughter . . . but I swear, it was not intentional).
And yes, we did have a couple of older brothers helping us out (thank goodness – it gave us more time to breathe between time on the court).
And tonight I am feeling really old . . . Stefan and I went out for a walk yesterday evening . . . our road is in bad shape from the harsh winters, and sorta slopes down along the edge (it is not flat, but higher in the middle). Anyways, while I was walking, I noticed that my left leg was taking deeper steps (like I was limping) because it was farther down to meet the road. I figured already then, that my hip was going to bug me today, and sure enough, after the first five minutes of floorball my left hip started aching.
Oy vey.
Where’s the heating pad?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Just a photo diary of the last couple of days:
Floorball League Awards Ceremony
Sofia’s team . . . . she’s close to the middle, wearing jeans and a brown shirt.

Joel’s team . . . he’s wearing a yellow shirt.

Showing their medals (once we got home).

Flowers I received from the students in my adult English classes:
We are, actually, melting our way out of winter. The sun even came for a visit this evening:
However, there are still some Christmas lights that are stuck in the snow . . .


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

history lesson

It’s quite neat to live in a country that has such a rich, interesting history . . . a lot of which is the result of sharing a long border with Russia.
This evening, as a year-end field trip for my Tuesday Adult English classes, we went to the battlefield in a nearby town (Oravais).
Our lesson began outside the Furirbostället – Sergeant’s Residence which was built in 1733 and used as an officer’s residence until 1809 (I will tell you what happened in 1809 shortly).
Inside we were shown how the building was restored to represent exactly how it would have looked when it was built, displays of what life was like for the soldiers and the villagers, a miniature of the battlefield and a film about the historical events of 1808-09. We were also served coffee and sandwiches.
Some important facts in Finland’s history:
  • Finland was a part of Sweden for about 700 years (from the 12th to the 19th centuries) – that’s why we speak Swedish here in this area:)
  • During the Napoleonic Wars, Finland was invaded (1808) by Russia, at the time an ally of Napoleon I, in an attempt to pressure Sweden into altering its pro-British stance.
  • In 1809, one of the bloodiest, and ultimately the most pivotal battles, was fought and lost on the battlefield in Oravais. Sweden lost Finland to Russia, and the Swedish soldiers went back to Sweden.
  • From 1809 – 1917 Finland was a Grand Duchy of Czarist Russia.
And that’s your history lesson for today. Hope you enjoyed it:)

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.