"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 winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label winter. 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!


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- Alan 

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Barbeque Time!

A typical small portion at a Finnish barbeque.
Finnish pork sausage and potato salad.

I can't believe there's still some snow lying about over here.
I know it's Finland, but it's almost May!

Nevermind, it's not going to stop this years barbeque kick-off! I'm looking forward to my first barbeque of the 2010 season this weekend.
Well, I tell a lie, it's actually my second.
My first BBQ took place last February, but it was a snow barbeque, so it doesn't really count.

Believe me it's a totally different experience.

Here's some photos to prove it.

I remember it being -13 degrees celsius that afternoon, apparently warm enough for some Finns to go outside for a barbeque!
Honestly, they're crazy!!

As it was just too cold for me to take my gloves off, I left all the grilling to my friends.

I found a fun and easy way to warm myself up while checking out the nearby slopes. Extreme sports here I come!!

(If the owner of the sledge in this photo is reading this, I'm very sorry!)

Well, hopefully that troublesome volcano in Iceland will calm down a bit and our weather can get back to some normality. I'm hoping that the sun will burst out this weekend with a massive heatwave here in Finland.

I'm going to get my Kabanossi sausages out and have a few cold cans of beer in the blistering sunshine. I might even put my shorts on!

'Got to be optimistic!!

And I got a nice surprise last week at the shops when I saw that my favorite Finnish beer is now available in a one litre can. (I'd love to see 'em shotgun this baby!)

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

There's no art like snow art!

The date was the 14th of February, St.Valentine's Day.
This is a holiday I have normally associated with love, romance, cards, flowers and chocolate. A day every Irish teenager eagerly awaits at their halldoor for the postman to arrive with a Valentine card from that someone special who supposedly loves them so much, whether they like it or not. Oh yes indeed, the memories of Valentine's Day!

This holiday in Finland is slightly different however. The holiday of St.Valentine is relatively new here. In fact it first appeared in diaries here in 1987 as 'Friend's Day' or "Ystävänpäivä" in Finnish.
And to this day it is still called "Ystävänpäivä".

However, nowadays you can see cards and other items advertising 'St.Valentine's Day' in shops and on television everywhere in Finland. But it's just another word for Friendship to most Finns. And while the elements of romance which are associated with St.Valentine's Day slowly begin to creep in to Finnish culture, you are still more likely to see close friends and even relatives giving each other cards and gifts of friendship on February 14th.

As it turned out, 'Friendship' was the theme at a very 'cool' event I attended last month. The local municipality of Raseborg in Southern Finland were I live had organised a day out for the public which included some ice-swimming, bbq sausages and most importantly a Snow sculpting contest. This contest was held over a period of 3 hours on a beach in the town of Ekenäs. The sea here was frozen at the time, so I got a chance to walk on ice. This was a first for me!

A selection
of snow sculptures.

And here's the sculpture
that came first in the contest.

Well, that's what happened down my way last month on Valentine's Day. Definately something different for me and also a novelty day-out. I reckon a Friendship Valentine is always a good thing!

Here's a little clip I made of the Snow Art and more.
Thanks for reading my blog and enjoy the video!


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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Shamrock Experiment: Day 1

I thought I'd try and grow my own shamrock for St.Patrick's Day this year. This small green plant needs a little care and attention to be grown indoors, so don't be surprised if this goes all wrong. And there isn't a huge amount of sunshine in my part of Finland at the moment.

I didn't have any soil or fertiliser around, so I have to make do with some old mix of wood chippings and dirt. Because of this I will have to keep it well drained with water over the next few weeks.
Will I have the 'Luck of the Irish'? We shall see!

I purchased this small packet
of seeds while in Ireland last Christmas.

So here's the first photo of my experiment.

Keep watching this terribly exciting blog to see if the
shamrock grows in time for good old
St.Patrick's Day 2010!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Date with the Saami people!

Renée Zellweger chews her finger 
in the title role of Bridget Jones’s Diary.

From Universal/Neal Peters Collection

Living in Finland for over two years now I am still amazed at just how large the country is. Finland has a similar population size to my home country Ireland, but is actually four times larger in area coverage.
Of course a large area of northern Finland is open to severe weather conditions in the winter months and therefore considered uninhabitable by some. Add to this the lack of daylight and it paints a grim picture of how anyone could survive winters in this northern region of Finland where temperatures can drop to between -45°C and -50°C.
I live in the most southerly area of Finland and winter here can be hard enough to bear. I honestly cannot understand how anybody can live in the north of Finland.

However this northern area of Finland we all know as Lapland has a large community with busy towns and modern infrastructure. And with a population of about 184,000 it seems that long cold winters hasn't deterred anyone from living there.
Of this quite large population living in Finnish Lapland around 7,000 belong to the Saami community. These are the people who most of us are used to seeing in photos and on TV wearing traditional red, blue and yellow lined clothing and usually occupied by reindeer herding and age-old crafts like carpentry and sowing.
However, nowadays you are more likely to see a Saami rushing around after reindeer on a turbo-quad vehicle with an iphone gps attached. And why not? These are people who welcome the use of modern devices where needed, yet they still maintain and respect old traditions.

I don't know much more about the Saami people and I'm not qualified to write any detailed information, but since moving to Finland I have discovered that they are very much a part of a detached culture to most Finnish people. They have their own language, they even have there own TV broadcasts I believe. You can read more about the Saami here.

Homeland of the Saami people

The Saami Flag

This leads me on to Hollywood star Renée Zellweger.

What???....... What has she got to do with Finland you may ask?

Well, nothing really.
But I was a little surprised to see her photo on Wikipedia's page about some of Finland's most northerly inhabitants, the Saami. Well actually the Saami people live in the nordic area more commonly known as Lapland, which encompasses parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

It appears that Renée Zellweger's mother, Kjellfried Irene (née Andreassen), is Norwegian-born and of Saami origin.
And today, February 6th marks the Saami National Day.
I wonder if the Hollywood star has this date written in her diary, definately a day to toast a proud part of her heritage.

And finally a little bit of modern Sami music. I'm not familar too much with the Sami culture, I think it would be great to head up to Lapland one day and say hello to all the gang. Here's some music I found on YouTube which appealed to me.

You can find out more about the Saami people and Finnish weather at these interesting links.

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

- Alan

The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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