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 traditions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label traditions. 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.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Love/Hate List No.1 - No strings attached please!




Love/Hate No.1

HATE - Tea-bags with strings!


People often ask me what I like or dislike in Finland. And some also ask me the same about Ireland. For example food, customs, travel, weather, pubs and so on. So a while back I decided to start a list of a few things I like and dislike. Just little things, nothing too serious.  I made a new photo album on my facebook page called my Love/Hate album. I also threw in a few items or oddities from elsewhere along the way. This blog is simply an extension of the list with more explanations and the odd dose of jibber jabber. 

So I'll begin with 
Love/Hate No.1 
- HATE - Tea-bags with strings!



Tea has been a major import commodity in Britain ever since the seventeenth century and changed drinking habits of the nation forever. It was not until 1908 however that the tea-bag was invented. And it was only by accident that it was invented in America by New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan, when he start sending out tea samples packed in small silken packages to his customers. The customers unaware that they were supposed to remove the tea leaves from the small silken-packs, simply threw the whole lot into their teapots rather than use the more common metal diffuser or tea-strainer. And thus the tea-bag was born!!! 


'Tea-time reflections' 
pencil on paper, 1988 - Alan Hogan





The humble teabag was then commercially produced with a lighter material and a string attached.
Thomas Lipton incorporated the Lipton Tea Company in 1915. Lipton Tea patented a novel four-sided tea bag in 1952 called the flo-thru tea bag. The Lipton brand is very well-known and can be easily found in most places including Finland. 






The teabag string was added primarily as an aid to draw out the flavour of the tea leaves by way of squeezing the tea-bag. A printed label with the tea brand was also attached to the other end of the string. I can't help but wonder if they ever had teaspoons back then! Nowadays the string is simply used for dipping the tea-bag into the cup as shown in the photo above. This may be suitable for those who like a light cup of tea.


It is still common to find tea-bags on sale with strings attached, especially on continental Europe. They come in an assortment of flavours also, which I personally hate. But that's just me and my loyalty to the plain cup of tea.

Teabags with no strings attached!





The plain cup of tea is a part of what Irish people are. There's always time for a cup of tea. You could say we're tea-mad! 





Indeed, it's a rare occurrence to step into a house in Ireland and not be offered a cup of tea. Unless you are from the electricity supply board or a politician you will most certainly experience this custom when visiting the country, (actually a politician would never ever get past anyone's front door in Ireland these days!)





It's a certainty that a packet of biscuits will also appear like magic out of nowhere after your first sip of tea. Just remember, the nicer you are to your host the better the biscuit!
And if you're ever offered Chocolate Kimberley biscuits in Ireland then you must be very special indeed!!!





In Ireland it is more common to see tea-bags with no strings as they only get tangled up with the spoon! And who needs a string when a spoon does the job perfect anyway! A waste of good string in my opinion.
The same stringless-type tea-bags are also sold in the UK, but they have their own brands such as Tetley, PG Tips and Typhoo. These brands are sold in Ireland, in fact my grandmother used to buy PG Tips when I was a kid. This was probably because I made her, they had some good gifts to be had if you collected enough tokens from their boxes. The guys at Lyons tea soon took up their own promotions. 
More often Irish people prefer to buy Irish brands if possible such as Bewleys, Lyons or Barrys Tea. There is without doubt a better taste and quality in these brands. And when the Irish public drink more tea per capita than the British public something must be right.

The original blend Lyons teabags now available online,
just click on the photo above!






It's a well-known fact that before going on holidays abroad most Irish people will take one of these brands with them in their suitcase. I have noticed a similar custom amongst Finnish people going on holidays with other products. In fact nowadays I always bring a tube of Finnish mustard back to Ireland with me whenever I visit, it's the best and I've already converted one or two Irish people!

Check out this video from the master brewer at Barry's Tea. These guys know their stuff!!!







Of course I don't travel back to Ireland as much as I used to due to the lack of airlines travelling direct. So I always pack a few Irish products into my suitcase before I head back to Finland. Once I get back they don't last long and I'm wanting more. There are a few shops were I can buy English foods here in Finland but they can be very expensive. And anyway I prefer to have some of the food I grew up with, partly because they taste better and partly out of nostalgia.
I have replaced some of my Irish diet with Finnish foods which has been a success. There are places online where thankfully some Irish products and other items can be bought for less than what I would pay in specialised shops in Finland or other countries. So now I can sometimes enjoy a decent cup of tea with no strings attached!

  



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- Alan 

                     


#mrsdoyle #rareauldtimes #anicecupoftea #U2 #barrystea #lyonstea #dublin #thegreatestbandever #hotpressmagazine #teaology #tea #ireland #haveacup #cork #irishabroad #irishdownunder #irishamericans #irishbiscuits #jacobsbiscuits #kimberley #irishproducts #ireland #lovehate


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, 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.


Guilty!



"Happy Pikkujoulu!!!"


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- Alan 



                     
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!


'Oddbod' from the film 'Carry on Screaming!'
(or an advertisement for hair loss reversal!)




Happy Halloween as the greeting suggests is all about dressing up and having a bit of fun. Personally I think I'm probably a bit old in the tooth to be wearing Halloween costumes, but if any Halloween party invitations suddenly arrive in the postbox I'll be the first to go running for a mask. Growing up as a child in Ireland the tradition of Halloween always meant putting on a scary mask and knocking on house doors around where I lived. It also gave us a chance to see who was living near us. My mother told my friends and I not to call at strangers' houses. Yep, that was like asking my sisters not to go shopping for shoes! Costumes weren't much, a simple old white sheet my mum was throwing out or a black bin-liner bag were the usual choices. Then there was the plastic mask, which always had a cheap elastic band attached with two staples. It was always good to have a spare stapler at home as it usually broke after an hour or so. The only other items needed were a few explosive sticks or bangers as we called them and a plastic bag for the goodies. The goodies given by house owners varied over the years and changed dramatically with time. During the first few years any type of fruit was the usual received with a few nuts thrown in also. Then some genius decided it was good to give kids sweets instead of fruit! ......I don't recall any kids complaining about this sudden change, but why should they as most of them had indestructable teeth!  While some folk were still handing out the traditional fruit and nuts, more and more were switching to sweets, or as americans called it 'candy'. And because of this many kids developed a sweet tooth and became more demanding and sometimes devilish towards their sponsors... Poetic justice perhaps, or just damn good fun!



Hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds were just some of the traditional treats handed to Irish kids during Halloween collections. ....Walnuts were without doubt my favourite! 



Halloween has grown in popularity with older kids and adults over the years in Ireland and it's an incredibly busy night for bars and nite clubs in the big towns and cities. The chance to put on a costume allows people to join in the celebration and have fun with others. It's not unusual to find Dracula 'kissing' a fair maiden spontaneously during the night, or to see Batman suddenly rescue a total stranger from being too drunk.





I suppose the increase of interest in all things Halloween has been highly influenced and exaggerated by media from the U.S.A., with the constant stream of horror movies from Hollywood over the years. Titles such Friday the 13th, Childs Play, Nightmare on Elm Street and Saw immediately come to mind. And it seems that the USA influence of Halloween has also reached Finland in recent years. With an appetite for hard rock and metal music aswell as all things dark and morbid I am still wondering why Halloween hasn't become a national holiday in Finland by now. 
While I haven't seen any evidence of 'Trick-or-Treating', there are a lot of shops around stocking all sorts of Halloween novelties for kids including costumes, masks and sweets. I think it's mainly for school and private house parties. I also know that some niteclubs have Halloween parties.

One thing I always like to do every Halloween is watch an old horror movie. I have a small selection of horror dvds at home including my favorite, the original version of The Amityville Horror starring James Brolin. Nowadays however you only have to visit YouTube for most of the classics. There's a lot to be found elsewhere online also. 



Here's one you won't find on YouTube. I recently found this old favorite of mine called 'Carry on Screaming!' which is of course a horror-based comedy from way back in 1966. I still love the old British humour in this classic from the 'Carry on' series of films. It's available to watch or download with excellent quality here. (the installation of a DIVX player may be required for some viewers)



Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends. 
.... and a very Happy Halloween!!!!



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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Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Dead Poet's Breakfast!





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.




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