"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 Jul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jul. Show all posts

Friday, December 13, 2013

No Snow in Finland!

Karjaa, Finland - 12.12.2013

Okay, so this blogpost was meant to go out a few days ago. It was meant to be a short post with lots of pretty snow photos from Finland. I even took a quick video from where I'm actually sitting right now which was going to be followed by more winter images. There was a drop in temperature to -13 degrees celsius, so everything was looking all nice and glitzy. I could almost hear the Jingle bells ringing!

But then all of a sudden the temperature rose to +8C degrees! And did I get a chance to take my Christmas photos? ...No!
Instead, after seeing awful weather on tv from the recent memorial for the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and hearing about the first snow in Jerusalem for over 60 years, I stood at my window taking photos of grass outside my Finnish home. This is truly terrible! It's now less than two weeks to Christmas and there's no snow in Finland! What's up with that?

Here lies possibly the last piece of snow of 2013. 
It is now in my freezer in case of emergency.

I realise the title of my blogpost isn't entirely true, of course there is snow in Finland. It's such a big country, you only need to drive 200 kilometers north and you will be guaranteed snow. But if anyone is travelling to the capital area of Helsinki, beware for you may be disappointed, especially as one of Finland's finest events occurs today.

Today marks the crowning of Lucia, an annual event on December 13th happening in various towns across Finland with the largest and most media-covered crowning being held in Helsinki against the backdrop of the fabulous Helsinki Cathedral.  

 Click to see original painting

I have seen this event without snow before. I remember a group of students from Sweden brought their own Lucia celebration to St.Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland about 10 years ago. It was something special indeed, especially when I first saw the group all dressed in white gowns with red sashes walking up the freezing stone floor in their bare feet. It was a very cold evening and walking barefoot didn't look easy. While I still remember that occasion in Dublin very well, it is still not as spectacular as the proceedings in Helsinki. 
If you missed the Lucia celebrations at the big white church in Helsinki today don't worry, you can watch it all on the Finnish National broadcaster's channel. Just click this Link

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends. Let's hope the snow arrives here and wherever you are for Christmas!


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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Friday, November 29, 2013

Pikkujoulu! Party time!

Pikkujoulu begins this weekend here in Finland. This date on the calendar always confuses me. Correctly translated from Finnish to English, Pikku joulu means Little Christmas. For swedish-speaking Finns it translates as Lilla Jul. But when the word Pikkujoulu is mentioned in Finland it usually refers to Christmas Party-time, and more so by Finnish speakers. It's time for groups, companies, friends and colleagues to hold their Christmas parties! 
The reason I get confused is because back in my old country Ireland, we also have Little Christmas or 'Nollaig Bheag' as it's called in Irish. But it is celebrated after Christmas on January 6th. I always remember it occurring just before the end of the Christmas school holidays. My parents used to meet up with friends at the local bar and invite them back to our house afterwards for some food, a few drinks and sometimes a sing-song! 

The fact that there's no term for the Irish equivalent of Pikkujoulu does not mean to say that Irish people don't have their own version of it before Christmas. Indeed, the festivities are very similiar to Finland with non-stop company parties and all other gatherings throughout the whole month of December. Because of their popularity and the difficulty in finding or booking a venue, some Christmas parties can often begin as early as the first week in November!

One of my favourite days while living back in Ireland was the last day of work before breaking up for Christmas holidays. It was a day of very little work and more about drinking coffee and eating as many of the boss' chocolates as possible! And all this while been presented with bottles of whiskey from customer reps and suppliers, and not to mention the Christmas bonus!! 
After all that it was straight to the pub at 12.00 for a free bar and finger-food (I imagine these pleasures have been trimmed back a little since the bank crisis a few years ago)
Having left work-colleagues at the pub in the afternoon during the usual half-drunken rendition of either 'You've lost that lovin' feelin'!' by The Righteous Brothers or 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues, I usually headed into Dublin city centre to meet up with my own friends. This is the best time to be in Dublin or any other city in Ireland, as the atmosphere is really warm and friendly. As an Irish person I would go so far to say it's better than St.Patrick's Day (unless it happens on Christmas Eve Dec 24th when most city pubs close at 9pm! ...that's a bummer!!)

Happy 10th Birthday Fake Argos Christmas Tree!!

Anyway I'm all set for Pikkujoulu here in Finland. I've dragged my old fake Christmas tree out from storage and the lights are up. I can't believe that the same lights which came with this tree are still working! I must admit I hate untangling any sort of Christmas lights. I think I'm gonna add it on to my Love/Hate list on facebook (you can follow it on my Facebook page here)

Christmas Lights!!! :)

It's a momentous year as my tree celebrates it's 10th birthday! I bought my tree from the Argos store in Dublin while living in Ireland and it has served me well every year since. I like to look at it as been ten real trees I have kept alive. Although I confess, I have cut one down for someone else as a favour while in Finland.


"Happy Pikkujoulu!!!"

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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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Season's Greetings

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve here in Finland and it is the day for Christmas dinner and celebrations all over the country. It's gonna be a particularly cold Christmas here this year with plenty of snow. So lots of shovelling should work up a good appetite for Christmas dinner. I will of course miss my family back in Ireland and all the great craic that comes with an Irish Christmas. But circumstances allow me to once again enjoy a more peaceful and picturesque Christmastime here in the land of the reindeers, and I'm looking forward to some fine Finnish cuisine being served up by my brother-in-law and his culinary wife. A selection of smoked and marinated fish, a large oven-baked ham, meatloaf, carrot and potato casserole with side-dishes of cognac-mustard and gingerbread should be all present at the Finnish Christmas table. Add to that a few bottles of wine and a crate of beer and we'll all be smiling! 
And if I have any energy left after all that I might just do it all again on Christmas Day, the day of celebration back in Ireland.

But for now, to whoever is reading this blog I wish you a special Happy Christmas wherever in the world you are, and a very Happy New Year 2013!!!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An early Christmas in Dublin, 2009.

My first ‘refreshed’ blog-post is all about my recent pre-Christmas 2009 trip back to Dublin, Ireland. My last visit to Dublin’s Fair City was Christmas 2008, so I was interested to see if things had changed at all.

As there are no direct flights from Finland to Ireland available during the winter months, I needed to look around for other ways to get to Dublin. I found that taking a direct flight from Sweden was a good value option, and I could avail of some well-needed duty-free Christmas shopping on the ferry back to Finland. It meant a long trip by boat and plane, but I made it all part of my little holiday.

Ferry accommodation was quite good, and the entertainment on the boat from Finland to Sweden was excellent.

I had the pleasure of watching Finnish star Markku Aro on the trip to Stockholm,(for any Irish reading this, he’s like a Finnish Joe Dolan). Markku began his set with Hyvännäköinen, the Finnish version of ‘You're Such a Good Looking Woman’. Good stuff!
Here's a little clip I made of the man in action!

On arrival at Stockholm I was now ready to find my way to the Ryanair airport. It took me over an hour to get there by bus from the city centre, but I finally boarded my flight to Ireland. Time for a little sleep.

Touchdown Dublin!
And what was that outside the airport building? There has been a few new developments happening here since my last visit. A very modern looking building stood before me, a new terminal I think. I only hope the economy picks up so they can fill it with business. Although judging from all the new layouts in the present building, which I was very happy to see, I don’t think the new building will have any problems. Now if the airlines could just run a better service from Dublin to Finland I’ll be happy.

Most of my visit involved visiting my parents and my brother. The highlight was seeing my brother's new baby girl for the first time. Most of the baggage I brought with me contained presents from Finland for her. Needless to say there was the odd Moomin item in there, as well as a ragdoll which I was told was called a ‘Molla-Maja’. So happy faces all round!

After a few days in the suburbs it was time to meet up with my brother for a few pints in Dublin city. I had planned on having a long afternoon walk around Dublin, just to see a few of the old sights and such, but the weather was a little chilly. That may sound a little strange with me travelling from Finland, but Ireland has a damp chill-factor that could freeze the head off your pint of Guinness. And if there’s a wind in the air, watch out!

Statue of
Phil Lynott

Phil Lynott - Old Town

I did manage to take a few photos of some special places in Dublin city which I put together in this short video clip here. Sorry for the shortage of famous landmarks. No Trinity College or Halfpenny Bridge, it was very cold and I was parched for a pint of Guinness, so a warm pub seemed all too tempting.

I did manage to get a shot of the GPO (General Post Office)
which is probably the most historical building in Dublin and Ireland's history.

I also got a nice photo of a family visiting the Nativity Crib on O'Connell Street and another one featuring the statue of Dublin rocker Phil Lynott, who was the lead singer/songwriter of Thin Lizzy before dying at the young age of 36 back in 1986.
I threw a few drawings of mine into this clip aswell.

Unfortunately I wasn’t around for all the snow which arrived a little later in Dublin. But I did have plenty of it waiting for me back at my new home in Finland.

I also had the pleasure of being greeted by Jack Frost on arriving back in Turku Harbour, Finland. And it was a freezing -20 Jack Frost! Brrrr….!!

I had planned on spending a few hours walking around in Turku, which is traditionally known as the Christmas town in Finland. But it was way too cold for that. I couldn't feel my fingers at this stage. So a quick walk down to Turku Cathedral was all that was on the program. It always looks well there at Christmas-time. Here’s a photo I couldn't resist taking.

Thanks for reading this blog.
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