Of ice, cardamon buns and delicious Blinis – welcome to the second part of my monthly review series of my life in Finland…
In Finland, February is called Helmikuu – the month of the pearl referring to ice pearls which are visible on the snow and on tree branches making the nature look truly beautiful in the sun. Days became longer (scaringly fast I have to admit) and the hours of sunshine seemed to increase daily. However, when I think back to February the first thing that comes to my mind is ice! Thanks to temperatures almost exclusively far below zero in January the ice on the lakes became thick enough to actually enter it. People were walking, skiing, fishing, and even bicycling on the ice shortening the way from one part of the city to the other – for a few weeks at least. Why not just cross the lake instead of going all the way around…
Yes, why not? I have to admit the thought of actually walking to the center of a huge lake scared me a bit! Knowing that there are thousands of liters of ice cold water below me and the next shore far away did not make me feel very comfortable when I first entered the ice. At least not on the first day. We came back many times and I started to enjoy the feeling of freedom that this huge, flat ice area around me created. Plus we got to watch some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen!
If you are planning to visit Finland in winter I can totally recommend coming in February when the days are getting longer and the sun makes the snow look really beautiful.
Last month I also started to work and as a happy coincidence the yearly retreat for all the employees happened to take part just after a few work days. We got invited into a restaurant called Näsinneula located on top of an observation tower. In 124m height we could enjoy the delicious food with spectacular views over Tampere and the surrounding area. Once more the weather happened to be sunny so I got quite some nice shots of the city and of lake Näsijärvi.
Laskiainen & Blini weeks
And then there was Laskiainen in mid-February… I tried to find out what exactly it is but I have to admit I am still not really sure (if anybody can explain it please feel free to leave a comment below). Laskiainen is a feast before Eastern which includes pagan and christian traditions. I also found some description of ‘mid-winter sliding festival’ and some definition of the word Laskiainen referring to the Latin phrase carne lasciare – ‘leaving out meat’ (probably a connection to lent before Easter) and lascea which is the Finnish word for sledding. The main thing I connect with the word Laskiainen are incredible delicious, sweet cardamon buns cut in half and filled with strawberry (or raspberry) jam and lots of whipped cream – so-called Laskiaispulla!
The Russian version of Laskiainen called “Maslenitsa” ( russ.Масленица ) is also visible in Finland through the Blini weeks: restaurants offer tasty Blinis with different fillings and toppings for a special price. Blinis are a type of thin pancakes, similar to crepes, just a bit thicker. We had Blinis with reindeer, caviar and forest mushrooms – they were delicious!
Life in Finland in February was rather quiet, enjoying the month of the pearl in its full beauty. Now I’m looking forward to Maaliskuu which will not be quiet at all as I can promise you already…
Did you ever walk on a huge, frozen lake or try Laskiaispulla or Blinis? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!