Introduction:

"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"


- Alan Hogan



Showing posts with label Finnish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finnish. Show all posts

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Dead Poet's Breakfast!




This is a repost from 2011. I'm trying to restart my blog yet again. And what better day to reboot it than this special day in the Finnish calendar. Since Finland is celebrating it's 100 year birthday as an independent nation this year 2017 I hope to repost a few old stories here aswell as some photos from my time living in Finland.  

The 5th of February is known as Runeberg's Day in Finland, named after Finland's national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg who was born in the town of Jacobstad, Finland on this date 1804.




'Runeberg's most famous work is Fänrik Ståls sägner (The Tales of Ensign Stål, Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat in Finnish) written between 1848 and 1860. It is considered the greatest Finnish epic poem outside the native Kalevala tradition and contains tales of the Swedish War of 1808-09 with Russia. In the war, Sweden ignominiously lost Finland, which became a Grand Duchy in the Russian empire. The poem, which is composed episodically, emphasizes the common humanity of all sides in the conflict, while principally lauding the heroism of the Finns. The first poem "Vårt land" (Our Land, Maamme in Finnish) became the Finnish National Anthem. Runeberg is celebrated on 5 February each year.'
- taken from Wikipedia


While the National anthem of Finland is sung in the Finnish language by the majority of people over here, it is also sung in swedish with the same passion and pride by a part of the Finnish population living in the west and south of Finland. In my opinion there is something very special and respectful for the people of Finland to have their anthem in both languages.

   


And it is also on this day Feb 5th every year that a certain cake named 
Runeberg's torte (Finnish: Runebergintorttu; Swedish: Runebergstårta) is eaten all over in Finnish homes to celebrate this great national poet. The story goes that the poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg enjoyed a torte with some brandy punsch for his breakfast every morning.





And not wanting to be disrespectful, I am only too happy to carry on this good tradition in my own home today. A little too late for breakfast, I will be eating one of these two little beauties here with a nice cup of tea later on this evening.



Thanks for reading my blog and please share it with all your friends.

-Alan

You are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button here.


Original post from 2011.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mayweather in Finland!

I just wanted to throw a blogpost in quickly as it seems the winter in Finland may finally be over, well at least until after autumn. And no, this post has nothing to do with the recent boxing fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, so apologies to any boxing fans who stumbled onto my blog here. I hope it was a good fight. I didn't see it myself unfortunately, I was fast asleep in bed!

Getting back to May-weather, last Thursday saw the arrival of Vappu, Finland's annual Mayday celebrations which actually begins on the 30th of April and can continue until May 1st or even longer for some folk depending on whether or not you have a strong head! It's traditionally a very Finnish affair with students past and present wearing their white graduation hats. I've been told that in the past students also had a blue hat which was worn during the winter months and then swapped for a white version on Vappu to celebrate the arrival of spring, summer and happy days. There are various styles of hats symbolising which area, academy or field you studied. For example if you qualified as an engineer you would normally have a long string and tassle attached to your hat. I think I prefer the normal white sailor type hat myself.


The traditional Finnish student hat


Of course as I studied in Ireland myself I don't have this white student hat. To my knowledge students in Ireland don't have student hats, maybe one or two junior schools wear them as part of a uniform but definately not used as graduation wear for Secondary School (High School). Nope, all we received was a certificate and a jolly good wave goodbye! Some third-level colleges and universities may have special graduation garments and hats similar to those found in the United States of America. These are usually rented though, so you would never see them worn annually on May day.

Anyway, with the absence of a white hat I decided to grab my old school tie instead and throw it on just for Vappu. Don't ask me why I still have my old tie, just a bit of nostalgia I suppose! I wasn't going to any Vappu parties so it didn't matter if it offended anyone or looked silly. With my striped-maroon St. David's school tie fitted on and a few drinks ready for some cocktail-experimentation I felt a bit like Harry Potter. My first trick was the exploding champagne bottle!!! Maybe I've just started a new trend for expats, wearing an old school tie on Vappu!

This years Vappu weather couldn't have been more confusing. I was planning a nice garden barbeque with friends for last Thursday, but then after a few pleasant sunny days this arrived on Wednesday morning and continued for most of the day. The final snow show!


  

With no option but to cancel my bbq plans I decided simply to enjoy a bottle of bubbly and some drinks indoors. This didn't stop those in the big cities from partying hard though  and to everyone's surprise the snow melted away like magic and sunshine brought joy to the land of Moomin and trolls. From what I heard there were actually a few new trolls crawling the streets of Helsinki on Thursday night! But overall throughout Finland people had a great day out. Lots of fun, balloons, good weather and of course champagne! Here's a video by a young mexican lady who went to the Vappu outdoor celebrations in the town of Lappeenranta in eastern Finland. She's explains what Vappu is all about in a more photogenic way than I could ever do!





You can read more about Vappu in Finland on my previous blogpost called 

Vappu! - May Day in Finland

Simply click on the image below!
















Thank you for visiting my blog!


Thank you very much and please share this with your friends!!!







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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan
 



               
                                                             









Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Eggs: Irish v Finnish eggs




As it's the Easter this weekend I just wanted to post a quick blog on Easter eggs.









As a kid growing up in Ireland the best thing about Easter was receiving chocolate Easter eggs. It's customary for Irish children to get an egg from their parents and they often get a few more from relatives also. With lots of nice and kind relatives I usually got around five or six eggs in total!









The eggs themselves vary in size from the smallest 12cm to the largest being around 20cm in height. It's possible to buy much larger eggs, but these are usually expensive and popular with husbands buying for their wives. Most eggs are made from either milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate. Inside your average Easter egg you can find a bag of chocolate sweets or candy
depending on which brand. 







Most eggs are packed in boxes and foil, some come in very large boxes! The lower-priced eggs (without a box) are usually made from a chocolate-candy, and not as tasty as the real chocolate eggs. Some popular eggs when I was younger were the 'Buttons', 'Flake' and 'Milk Tray' eggs all produced by Cadburys. The famous Milk Tray box of chocolates has been around for as long as I remember and is an old favourite in Ireland. .... James Bond has nothing on the Milk Tray man!





I may be wrong but the large-sized Easter eggs don't seem so common in European countries outside Ireland and the UK, although a few can be found in shops such as Lidl and Aldi. When some Finnish friends of mine were presented with eggs while visiting me when I lived back in Ireland they were quite surprised at how large the typical Irish Easter egg was.

In Finland the eggs you find in shops are usually small. The most common ones I've noticed are the Kinder Surprise egg with a small toy inside. There are many other egg brands of a similar size such as Minnie Mouse, Transformers and of course Angry Birds. I consider the Kinder egg to be like the Cadbury's Creme Egg, and not quite an Easter egg due to the fact that they're both available all year round, at least I think they are. 
For me the best Easter eggs in Finland are the Mignon eggs. These are something special, and nothing like anything you will ever find in Ireland.



The Mignon Egg
   




The Mignon Egg is produced by the Finnish food company Fazer, one of the largest companies in Finland. This egg is the second oldest Fazer product, dating back to 1896 and is considered to be the quintessential Finnish Easter egg. The most notable feature about the Mignon egg is it's resemblence to a normal everyday hen's egg. This is because it is indeed a perfectly natural egg which has be drained of it's contents, cleaned and then filled with a blend of delicious nougat and chocolate. The natural egg look is then enhanced by it's real egg-box packaging. The result is a piece of chocolate art and what I would call an adult's easter egg!!! In other words, it's sitting in my fridge now waiting to be devoured! 

Of course, for those who don't like chocolate here in Finland there is also another customary dish which can be found well-stocked on supermarket shelves this Easter. This is called Mämmi (pronounced Memmy in english). 




Mämmi is an acquired taste and will only appeal to some. For me it was a big NO!! NO!! the first time I tasted it. But as I am a fan of Guinness (a sort of liquified version of Mämmi) I may try tasting it again someday. The Finns consider Mämmi a dessert, but I would rather compare it to a potent energy power-breakfast. Here's a video of what sounds like a Scottish guy describing this Finnish Easter dish in detail !!!
 ... Warning! Viewers discretion advised!!!





Thank you for visiting my blog and Happy Easter from Finland!!!


Thank you very much and please share this with your friends!!!







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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan
 



               
                                                             








Monday, March 16, 2015

Holding for Hilda







This painting is called 'Holding for Hilda' and it depicts one of the many soapstone sculptures from the Pohjola building in Helsinki, Finland. A slight modification by myself plays on the painting's title and is purposely aimed at bringing the public's attention to the original designer of these wonderful sculptures. 
Her name was Hilda Flodin (1877-1958)

Hilda Maria Flodin (16 March 1877 in Helsinki - 9 March, 1958) was a Finnish sculptor, painter and graphic artist. She had come from financially stable background, with her parents Frithiof Flodin and Fanny Basilier working for the State Council. While not caring for school much, a young Hilda Flodin became a better student at the age of 16 on starting art studies at the Finnish Art Society drawing school (Suomen Taideyhdistyksen piirustuskoulussa) in Helsinki (1893-1898). Here she studied her first five years under teachers Helene Schjerfbeck and Albert Gebhard. In 1899 she left to pursue her studies in Paris France, where she studied at the Académie Colarossissa.

Her early period of works consisted of mainly sculptures and graphics. Flodin at an early age also became familiar with various methods of printmaking. A Paris exhibition in 1908 included subjects such as Helsinki and clouds representing her graphic works.

However, while the Pohjola building, designed by the great Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen is in itself a fine achievement, for me Hilda Flodin's wonderful soapstone sculptures are the icing on the cake. Well worthy of some light under Saarinen's shadow. The Pohjola building, built in 1901 can be found at 44 Aleksanterinkatu in the centre of Helsinki. Constructed from granite it's an excellent example of Finnish Romantic style architecture. Here's a little video clip I made that illustrates both Eliel Saarinen and Hilda Flodin's work.



If you understand Finnish here's a good link for a closer look at the life of Hilda Flodin.

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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

    

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Autumn Fair in Finland




Today I took a visit to the Autumn Fair in the nearby town of Ekenäs/Tammisaari here in southern Finland. The weather was unusually bright and warm for this time of year here. Like myself most visitors to the fair were dressed for cooler temperatures. But after only ten minutes of arriving I had to remove my jacket and 'wished I had kept my shorts on before leaving home!

I decided to let this blogpost become a photoblog as it's been a while since my last post and my writing skills are a little rusty. This is mainly due to the fact that I accidently deleted a lot of the photos from my previous blogposts on this page via my smartphone.

Anyway, here are my photos of the day.  




Jams and Juices






Hats!





Suit your #Selfie - High Fashion!





The Usual Suspects






Fancy Hats!





Italiano






East of Edam!




Suomi selection

Hello Helium!



















Local Wildlife





Balloons!





Candy liquorice





Honey






Angry Birds Top Shelf





Spacious rides!






Big Wheel!




Blood Donors Welcome!






More Candy!






Carousels!






Mr.Balloon Man!!





Maybe I'll go back tomorrow, I hear there's a beer-tent!!!




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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.



You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

                     

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vappu! - May Day in Finland










In Finland, Walpurgis day (Vappu) is one of the four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and Midsummer (Juhannus). During Vappu one can find big festivals held on the streets of Finland's towns and cities. This celebration which begins on the evening of 30 April and continues to 1 May, involves an all day party with consumption of sima (mead), sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages.



Student traditions, particularly those of the engineering students, are one of the main characteristics of Vappu. Since the end of the 19th century, this traditional upper-class feast has been appropriated by university students. Many lukio (university-preparatory high school) alumni (who are thus traditionally assumed to be university bound), wear a cap. One tradition is to drink sima, a home-made low-alcohol mead, along with freshly cooked cakes called Tippaleipä. The first time I saw these cakes I thought they looked like fish-bait. But like anything new it must be tried at least once, so I tasted this worm-like delicacy. My verdict was negative. The taste was likened to that of a dull donut, and the cake was a little awkward to eat as it crumbled apart into small pieces on my first bite. In conclusion, it's now near the bottom of my cake list along with carrot-cake!



Tippaleipä and Sima (Mead)


Since I've had all my education back in Ireland I don't have a Finnish cap to wear on this day. I usually celebrate Vappu with a few Finnish friends at home in my garden, depending if the weather is nice. My friends always wear their student caps as is the custom in Finland. During the first few years living in Finland I used to feel a little out of place or somewhat unbelonging for being the only person not wearing a cap at these parties, but this feeling has since disappeared thanks to good food, good company and the joyful consumption of alcohol!



A typical Finnish student cap


I was at one large Vappu party a few years ago where I had an interesting and fun night. Lots of dancing, Finnish food, balloons and even some salmiakki!! It was back in Dublin long before I moved to Finland at a special Vappu event organised by the Irish-Finnish Society. I remember it well as it was held in a place called 'The Garda Club', a recreational venue owned and run by the Irish Police. That was the first time I saw the now familiar sight of the white Finnish student cap.






The main event as far as Vappu is concerned in Finland is the placing of a student cap on Havis Amanda, one of Helsinki's famous statues.



Havis Amanda statue and fountain
in Helsinki, Finland.


Here's a clip of Finnish students placing the cap on Havis Amanda in 2013. The weather was just as it is today here, blue skies and sunshine. A nice start to the new Spring!






I'm not sure what my plans are for tomorrow 1st of May, but for tonight I shall be having a quiet night in to celebrate Vappu with my own brand of Sima from Bunratty! And who knows, I might end up wearing my own student cap by the end of the night (ie. the cap of the bottle!)




Hauskaa Vappua!!!
Glada Wappen!!!
Happy May Day!!!

Lá breá Bealtaine agaibh!!!




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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     



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The Art Garage, Finland

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