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 festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label festival. Show all posts

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!
















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- 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 



                     



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!





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- Alan 



                     
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Soul Inspired!




When most people think of Irish music festivals they think of fiddles, tin whistles, lively dancing and the odd refreshment. But times have changed and nowadays Ireland has many other musical festivals to offer, and for many different tastes. Festivals such as the Cork Jazz Festival, the Electric Picnic, and the Castlebar Blues Festival for example. And this month another festival which has only been around for 5 years comes back to Ireland's capital. Set up by a group of young dedicated Dubliners in 2007 the annual 'Dublin City Soul Festival' is an event about creating positive feeling through soul music. It's a way for musicians and like-minded people to come together and show their passion for what's best about Ireland. One of the big attractions of this year's festival I reckon will be the amazing and charismatic Mirenda Rosenberg, a singer from the U.S. now living in Ireland since 2005. Tickets are only €15 to see her, an absolute bargain! Check her out here in this video, fantastic!



There has been a wholesome connection between the roots of soul music and various musicians in Ireland over the years, and a great bond of musical respect has been established because of this. Well-known Irish artists such as U2, Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor, The Chieftains, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan come to mind.



And I suppose we shouldn't forget that little movie by director Alan Parker called 'The Committments'. This is the band that came to my mind first when I heard about this new festival in Dublin. It's a film I really enjoyed for the energy, the acting and of course that sweet soul music! Although I don't recall anyone singing soul music on the buses when I was growing up in Dublin. Weddings perhaps, but never on public transport!



It's not a bad redition of the old classic soul tunes. But let's be honest here and say that the originals are the ones to savour and add to your cd collection. The Committments were at their best an excellent covers band, not unlike a lot of the cover bands doing the pub circuits around Ireland at the moment. It is however nice to see that the old gang are back together again these days, and they have a 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert planned for next November in Dublin's Olympia Theatre. In fact they play two nights on November 9th and 10th, 2011. If you're lucky enough to be in Ireland around those dates you might like to enter this competition here to win some tickets. They recently had a comback concert last March with all of the original line-up. Here's a little video from Irish television with a few of them singing the classic 'Chain of Fools', and yes, that is the gorgeous Imelda Quirke singing!!...sorry I mean Angeline Ball!







  
The Dublin City Soul Festival's big banner-call this year is 'Cead Mile Failte', which is an Irish welcome as described in this short poem here.

An Irish Welcome
Here's Céad Míle Fáilte to friend and to rover
That's a greeting that's Irish as Irish can be
It means you are welcome
A thousand times over
Wherever you come from, Whosoever you be.

I recently received an email from one of the Soul Festival's event people asking me if I'd like to take part in this year's event. The organisers have a project called Eye Candy where they ask artists to donate a piece of their work in aid of the festival's charity. The charity in question is called the 'Musical Youth Foundation'. It is the aim of this charity to provide more access for every Irish child to music through free lessons and musical instruments. I did of course donate a painting. I didn't have a lot of notice about the event, but I hope this little piece which I sent over can help somehow. I call it 'Soul Inspired' with a slight pun towards Dublin city's most controversial landmark called 'The Spire' on O'Connell Street (see photo below). The 'Dublin City Soul Festival 2011' is on from May 26th to May 29th 2011.








Finally, speaking of charity events, for anybody living in Ireland there's a great little table quiz being held in Dublin on June 1st, 2011 in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. It's called 'The Hogan Quiz' and it's organised by a wonderful bunch of people with plenty of heart and soul. And they also happen to be cousins of mine so you will definately have a great night. For more information check out their event page on Facebook here!



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

-Alan

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