Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Laskiainen - carne lasciare

Today is a special day known as the last day of the carnival season. Mardi gras is in Finnish laskiainen. The name may come from the Latin "carne lasciare", farewell to meat at the beginning of the Lent. Our Lutheran church doesn't require fasting before Easter, but we still enjoy fat food on this day. The traditional meal is thick pea soup with fat smoked pork in it; and as a dessert or afternoon coffee treat we have a sweet wheat bun filled with whipped cream and almond paste or strawberry jam. When I was a child, the buns were served on a deep plate with hot milk, which I found most awful.

An old agricultural tradition has remained, too, because it means lots of fun. It is sledging down the hill. This was supposed to make the flax grow tall, and make the harvest good in many ways. The longer the slide, the taller the flax.

These pictures show big and small children having fun this morning, sliding downhill on binliners or plastic sledges.

It was heartwarming to hear the merry laughter and shouts of the kids of different ages. I remember from my own childhood the feel of the bumps on the slope, falling off the sledge and getting snow in my neck and wrists, and climbing uphill again and again. Rosy cheeks, and moist hair clinging to the forehead, fingers and toes pricking with the cold. Oh happy times!

My sister P who was a student at the time, went with her friends in a bigger slope later in the evening, and afterwards there was a dance where everyone went in their sporty clothes. I can imagine there was romance in the air, too, when young adults were playing like kids in the dark winter evening.


  1. when i was a child i spend one night in a German hospital. & they served me hot milk at bedtime. it was awful. there is nothing better than the sound of children laughing. i wish i was brave enough to slide down just a small hill.

  2. I grew up in the desert so we'd go to the mountains to play in the snow. Back then it was tons of fun to visit snow. Not as much fun now that I live in it.

  3. I too do not like warm milk.The snow looks like sew much fun. Have a beautiful day my friend. Hugs, Marie

  4. What lovely traditions. I like your flax one particularly. :-) I would be useless at the small talk in the evening afterwards.

    We have Pancake Day on Shrove Tuesday (today) to use up the eggs and milk before Lent in pancakes. Nowadays people just make pancakes but don't take notice of the history behind it.

  5. The sledding looks like so much fun. My husband and I played like that in the snow in December when we had snow around here. The kids were spending the night at my parents, so we had some time alone. We got out the sled and went down the driveway sitting on the snowboard. Very fun to be a kid again!


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