The week before Easter was test week at school. I had two tests; I wrote a math test and I had a conversation with my äidinkieli puhekurssi teacher about what my mark for the course should be. I still haven’t gotten my math test back, and my mark for the speaking course was an “S” (in other words, a pass) however if I had done my second presentation, which I didn’t do because I was sick and then I went to Russia, I would have gotten a 9 out of 10 for the course. In all the free time I had during test week, I went to several elementary schools in Kauhava to gives presentations about my city, my country, and me. It was pretty fun to give away Canadian goodies to all the kids who asked questions.
There is one type of food in Finland that comes out only around Eastertide. Mämmi. It is made of rye flour, malted rye, and dark molasses. Finns either hate it or love it. I like it but only when it is served with heaps of sugar and cream.
With Easter being one of the most important events on the calendar of the church, the choir sang on multiple occasions. We sang the Thursday before Easter, twice on pitkäperjantai (Good Friday), and also on Easter Sunday (however I was absent from that service). My understanding of Finnish is good enough that I know most af the content that we sing about, however it is normally really formal or archaic language so sometimes I have problems. There was one song we sang which was written by Bach. Not only were the melodies and harmonies quite tricky, the words were in German. At the pitkäperjantai evening service, there was the first reading of which I understood everything. It was a story about a boy questioning his mother about the meaning of Good Friday.
|Me as a witch and Saila as the Easter bunny|
Finns have a very unique Easter tradition. It reminds many people (me included) of Halloween. The little kids dress up as witches and go from door to door. They have made decorated twigs and say this poem “Virvon varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks, vitsa sulle, palkka mulle”. The poem is sort of like a little spell that mentions something about health coming in the year and then it says a stick for you and payment for me. In essence, the kids give their decorated stick to the home owner, who in return gives candy and coins to the kids. The morning of the day before Easter I went “trullitelemaan” a.k.a. “virpomaan” with my host sister Saila and some neighbours. I too dressed like a witch and got a kettle filled with chocolate.
The Saturday evening before Easter my host family drove to my host-mother’s parents’ house. My host parents went to a birthday party and the grandkids (me included) spent the evening with mumma and paappa. We went to the kokko, which is a big bonfire and Easter party. It seemed like the whole village came out, including my host aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was a little fair inside the community hall. They were selling makkara and pulla. I entered the costume contest and I was the oldest participant by probably more than ten years. I tried to converse with as many people as possible to persuade them to vote for me. But I lost. A cute 18 month old Easter bunny won over me, the 19 year old Canadian exchange student. My host siblings and I spent the night at my host-grandparents house.
Easter Sunday was a pretty low key day. I had two shifts working at the movie theatre to fundraise for my Berlin trip, for which I would leave only a few days later. For my second shift no one else showed up to work with me, so I ran the kiosk by myself. I even answered the questions that some of the moviegoers had. I walked home from the movie theatre (because the rest of my host family was at another birthday party). Sunday evening I ate pizza and skyped my mom and grandparents.