As I promised you yesterday, I wanted to share with you some of my purchases from my recent trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, that you can read about in my previous blog post.
We had the pleasure to enjoy 1½ hours of shopping with our guide. Our guide made the most out of the limited time we had for shopping. Thanks to her we got to shop but also see some of the city while doing it. One of the main epiphanies during the trip was that one gets the most out of St. Petersburg, and I guess all harbor cities that tend to be windy, by visiting their courtyards and using them as shortcuts since they don't let the wind inside. Thanks to our guide, I dared to visit courtyards I wouldn't even have known about without her. This allowed me to explore the city in the best way and I noticed that this was the local way of moving around in the city! I will definately keep this in mind also in Helsinki since my beautiful home town is also a harbor city which is known for its fresh air that sometimes tends to get windy.
Thanks to our guide, I happened to walk into a shop selling Imperial porcelain. And guess what kind of tea cup I found in the shop?
One with a dragonfly on it, of course! Isn't it stunning? This tea cup felt like it had my name on it, so I just had to have it. Russia is also one of the nations that I associate the most with tea, after England that is, so a tea cup felt like a natural souvenir.
Another natural souvenir was a matuska doll! I wanted to find a traditional one, that consisted out of seven dolls, and was colored in yellow and red, as I was told this is the most traditional one. I remember my grandmother having one of these dolls in her living room in my childhood, and I always found the doll fascinating, so I knew I wanted one of my own! I couldn't be happier with the one I found!
The other purchases I made during the trip were Christmas presents for my family and boyfriend.
What kind of souvenirs do you like?
Here's today's story about Finnish Christmas:
Joulupukki (Finnish) / Julgubben (Swedish) - Finnish Santa Claus
The Finnish equivalent for Father Christmas / Santa Claus is called joulupukki in Finnish and Julgubben in Swedish. He has his origin in the pagan Nordic shaman tradition of people dressing up in animal disguises.
The Finnish Santa Claus was once a symbol of fertility and more of a frightening figure back then than today. He wore a thick fur-lined coat turned inside out, wearing a mask and a pair of horns on his head. The Finnish name for Santa Claus literally means "Christmas buck" (billy-goat). Although the figure of the modern Finnish Santa somewhat resembles the American one, clad in red-and-white suit, he still maintains some purely Nordic elements in his clothing and way of life. Nowadays the relaxed and jolly Finnish Santa personally visits many Finnish homes on Christmas Eve, December 24th, to hand out presents for children. The custom of having Santa Claus visits became popular in Finland in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Starting his journey from his home in Lapland, joulupukki travels in a sleigh lead by reindeers. The Finnish Santa Claus always travels by land, as his Finnish reindeer do not fly.
An interesting note: One could say that the commercialised Coca-Cola Santa figure has Finnish and Nordic roots, since Haddon Sundblom's, who created Coca Cola's red dressed Santa Claus in the 30's, father was born in Finland and his mother was Swedish.
Did you learn something new about the Finnish Santa Claus? Do you have something similar in your country?