This week we are celebrating National Ringette Week in Finland and that means that clubs around the country are hosting events, inviting people to come and try the sport, hosting practices with other teams and playing exhibition games.
When ringette and hockey season is on, I visit the arena five, sometimes six times a week. I mostly ferry around the Little Miss to her practices and games, but I also coach, so I have to be there anyways. It’s all good, I love it!
In fact it over the past month or so it has been ringette almost every single day! I was host to Canada’s senior women’s team at the recent World Ringette Championships in Helsinki. I even took the week off of work to be a part of it. It was well-worth my time! I got to meet some of the best ringette players from both Canada and Finland, what a privilege! I even got spend time in places that not too many people had access to over the duration of the tournament. While Team Canada didn’t really require a lot of my help, I was there during practices and games and learned a lot in the process.
I’d like to thank the players from both Canada and Finland who took the time to talk to the Little Miss, she was so very happy about that. It seems to have inspired her even more than before. (She also got to speak “Canadian,” which I am always thankful for.)
I was so disappointed that the World Ringette Championships were so overshadowed by the World Junior Hockey Championships. Yes, there was mention in the media about Finland winning the Sam Jacks Trophy on the senior side, but not enough mention about some of the best women skaters on the planet. Finland has its star players (Susanna Tapani, Anne Pohjala, Marjukka Virta), of course, but the game of ringette overall doesn’t not get enough press. Finland is the best country in the world right now, but very few people even know what ringette is and that is sad.
With the end of my coaching training back in December, I can say that I made a few new friends on the coaching circuit – people from Nurmijärvi, Hyvinkää and Lahti. So when we see each other at tournaments, we chat and find out how the teams are doing and how the coaching is going. It’s been really great to make all of these connections. The kids that play on our teams have developed so much over the course of the season and it’s been all uphill since the beginning of the season. <thumbs up>
It’s also nice to see so many women taking up the game, being brave and just doing it. My own team has gotten several new players this season, it’s GREAT! The point is to play and improve, the starting point does not matter.
My new complex: The Little Miss is involved in a variety of sports and I thought I’d try and give her a leg up on Finland’s other official language (Swedish) but putting her in clubs where the predominant language is Swedish. I must compliment all the coaches I have spoken with – they have been very accommodating of me when I need to have things answered. They’re very accommodating of the Little Miss and they speak Finnish to her (and others) as needed.
Deep down inside I wonder if any Swedish speakers I have met here in Finland are ever resentful of the fact that I speak zero Swedish. I do look like a Finn after all and most people think I am a native Finnish speaker the moment they meet me. Swedish would probably be so easy to learn, I just need to get to a beginners course and do it… <TIME! Where is the time to do that?>
A tangent: A couple years ago I got told off by one dad at a kids’ track and field meet where I was (only) helping measure for long jump and it was pouring rain. For some reason his kid got left out and then he started yelling at me. I told him loudly in English that I was just a parent and I didn’t speak Swedish. If was so concerned about his child’s involvement, why didn’t he step in to help? His behaviour was rude to say the least.
Swedish speaking Finns are a lot like French speaking Canadians (in Quebec), they form a lively and vibrant subculture that (read: I assume) fears being drown out by the dominant language and culture. The Mr. was surprised and kind of annoyed when he found out one of the Little Miss’s teammates didn’t understand or speak Finnish. In fact I commend her parents for making sure that Swedish is her dominant language. We live in the capital area and it won’t be long until she (and other exclusively Swedish-speaking kids) will be exposed to Finnish on all sides.
It’s been a busy, busy time in the lead-up to Christmas, I am happy to have a couple of days of peace and quiet.
Thank you to everyone for surfing on in this year and commenting on my posts. I value your feedback and your attention.
Have a very Merry Christmas! Stay safe, don’t drink and drive and arrive alive!
P.S. After Christmas I will be volunteering at the World Ringette Championships being held in Helsinki from December 27-January 4. Fastest sport on ice – I am really looking forward to it!
A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a seminar the the House of Nobility in Helsinki. It is one of those fantastic buildings in Helsinki that is tucked in behind other buildings of more significance. It was a real pleasure to see this place, which is often used for seminars, dinners and public and private happenings.
The neo-gothic styled building was completed in 1862. It has 464 square metres of floor space and can seat up to 3o0 people for gala dinners.
What makes the interior unique are the 357 family coats of arms that adorn the walls of the main hall. Only three of those noble family names are Finnish! (The rest are decidedly Swedish and German.)
The fellow who works the door of the House of Nobility has held that position for the last 18 years. I asked if he had any additional information in English and handed me a pamphlet, he was rather embarrassed when I notice that he too was pictured in it.
See more on the House of Nobility website, it is a really neat place.
As Finland’s Independence Day (December 6) approaches, here are some facts for you*:
- There are about 23,000 living war veterans in Finland who took part in the Winter.-, Continuing- and/or Lapland War.
- Almost half of them are women.
- The average age of these veterans is 91 years of age.
- A great deal of these veterans were 18-19 years old when they went to the front. 209 of those veterans turned 100 this year.
- The oldest Finnish veteran is Toivo Rantala and he is 107 years old.
- Female veterans served on the front lines unarmed, they dealt with anti-aircraft activities, communications, food services and taking care of the wounded and dead.
- About 600 Finnish war veterans live abroad, including in Sweden, Canada, the US, Australia and Estonia.
- Many veterans live in old age homes, others are widowed and live alone at home or they are caring for a spouse in their own homes.
- The veterans who are still in good shape take part in sports and recreation activities. One of them is a triple jump world champion in his 90s.
One of Finland’s most popular veterans of late was Hannes Hynönen. He became a media sensation when he danced with author Sofi Oksanen at the President’s Independence Day ball in 2014. Hynönen died on November 30 at the age of 102.
(*Compiled from a rough translation of an article in Helsingin Sanomat)
Earlier this year I got a message from Anna Vershinina in Russia asking if I would be interested in taking part in the social project Suitcase Story. Her idea is to send a suitcase around the world to willing people who would take photos, conduct interviews and contribute to the contents. The main idea of this project is uniting people from all over the world, telling about each region, sharing traditions, show the world and to attract attention of people to social problems. At the conclusion of this “experiment” we are planning to sell the suitcase at auction, and give the gained money either to charity or to a social project, to be decided up by the participants.
I said yes! So via Anna, I got the suitcase from Stacy up in Ylöjärvi (near Tampere). A postal strike in Finland has really messed things up lately and it took a long time for the notice to arrive in the mail. I only had the suitcase for a few days. Unfortunately I didn’t get to nearly all the places I was hoping to get to in Espoo, but I did take it around to some popular places that are not far from where I live. I handed the suitcase over to someone else (Elena) in Helsinki just a few days ago. I am now waiting to see what she will do with it!
I was instructed to
- travel with suitcase in your city (so I went to a few places around Espoo including Glims Farmstead Museum, the Bemböle Coffeehouse from 1737, Oittaa and the Angry Birds Park, Nuuksio, Haltia and the main cathedral in Espoo)
- -take some pictures with suitcase (there are a couple attached here)
- -make a video with wonderful places (I did take video and they have been uploaded to the Facebook group Suitcase Story)
- -put some souvenirs in suitcase (With the Little Miss’ help we out in a Finnish-Swedish book for babies, some postcards, a map of Espoo, a tourist guide for Espoo, a figurine of Uncle Scrooge, A Moomin figurine, a reflector, an Espoo Blues hockey ticket, some things from Kuopio (where the Mr. is from) and some pins and stickers from Canada)
- -keep the suitcase for just a few days (indeed – only a few!)
- -send suitcase to another friend / person in another city or other country (I handed it off to Elena, who is actually from Russia, in Helsinki last Sunday)
- -make it fun (Once I got it, I really did think it would be fun! So I did my best!)
If you’re interested in how the project is going and want to know more about (and you’re on Facebook), find it here.
The entire picture gallery of my own pictures of the suitcase are here.
I thought taking part would be fun and Anna’s directions indicated I was pretty much free to do what I wanted with it. I hope it gets far and filled with fun stuff!
Last weekend I was out and about – as per usual. I made the effort to get myself to a place that I haven’t been to in ages. It was only a scouting mission, because we’re planning to head there some time soon: Kattila in the Nuuksio National Park here in Espoo. There were not so many cars and plenty of parking. The most popular part of Nuuksio is often so crowded there is nowhere to park. I think I’ll try and make Kattila our new “must go to” destination.
I was so pleased to see the snow… unfortunately it has warmed up again and it’s all gone. I hope winter will arrive soon, my snowshoes are getting very dusty!