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Around Liisa's Day (November 19) waters and roads were said to become covered with a crust of new ice. Sheets of slippery ice, "kaljama", were also associated with Kaisa (November 25). Many ancient proverbs mention Liisa's slippery ice and Kaisa's kaljama.

If the ground froze deeply in the autumn and did not melt prior to receiving permanent snow cover, it would melt slowly in the spring. Thus, it was said that if there were no warmer periods of weather in late November, there would be a shortage of bread next year.

Litvetti's or Lemetti's Day (November 23), began the anticipation of Joulu. Litvetti's weather was said to reflect the winter weather until Matti's Day in late February. If the weather was mild during Litvetti, winter would also be mild. If it was cold, winter would be freezing.

Photo: Pekka Nikrus @ Flickr / Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0.

#taivaannaula #folklore #folkreligion #finnougric #nordic #finland #icy #NatureFinland #winter #crow #reflection
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Martti's Day tomorrow marked the end of both the beginning of new year and autumn celebrations. Only then the new year could really said to begin. Relatives, acquaintances and workers were invited to come for a visit. If there had been any resentment with the master of the house and the servants, things were settled for the new year by having discussion with a pint of home-brewed beer, sahti.

Sayings like "Martti strengthens the ground" refer to the fact that soft ground began to freeze in November. If Simuna's Day in October had already brought the cold weather, Martti took it away. Fishing in open water was discontinued. Sayings such as “Martti to the land, signs to the ice” meant that road signposts could be placed on ice roads after Martti.

Around this day village shepherds ended their working year that had begun in April and traveled around gathering their payments. In Ingria and Estonia children took on strange clothing and went from house to house like the spirits of the ancestors that visited people in the late autumn. The children sang and demanded food and drink from the house, and brought with them good fertility luck in a birch bark pack. The bounty they received was taken into one house and prepared into a festive meal.

Good food, especially meat, was essential part of Martti. Meat was a treat for special celebrations and it was obtained from animals bred in the farm. Pork and lamb were eaten most often. In Northern Ostrobothnia and further to the south, sausages and flatbreads were eaten on. The blood from the slaughter before kekri was kept in cool and prepared for tasty blood sausages before Martti.

Photo: Shepherd boys with birch bark backpacks in Palojärvi, Salmi 1934. Uuno Peltoniemi, Finnish National Board of Antiquities / Creative Commons BY 4.0.

#taivaannaula #folklore #folkreligion #finnougric #shepherd #martti #FinnishHistory #nordic #finnishcuisine #karelia
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The Finnish word ‘kalma’ has several meanings - the death, or the cause of it, a corpse or a grave, and a dangerous spiritual force. One might be infected with kalma when handling objects that were owned by a deceased or in contact with the dead body. The water that was used to wash the dead body was contaminated with kalma. Kalma was everywhere where there was death - cemeteries, skeletons and wooden boards on which the dead were laid to rest before burying. Water kalma could be catched from a place where somebody had drowned. Especially dreaded was the kalma of a prematurely born baby. It was believed to reside in the place where the child’s body was buried.

Infection of the kalma revealed itself as insanity, confusion and nervousness. There were also physical signs, such as, festering wounds. A person was healed from kalma by sending the force back to the realm of the dead. For the Finnish tietäjä the realm of the dead was concretely represented by the cemetery and mythically by the lands of Tuonela, underground and the North. Therefore, kalma could be healed by washing the sick with water that was taken from a stream flowing towards north or the sunset, and afterwards carrying the washing water to the cemetery.

All the spirits and ancestors related to death and dying were sometimes collectively referred to as ‘kalman väki’, the force of kalma, or death-folk. While the spirits of the family’s ancestors were well-known and respected personalities, the death-folk was impersonal, frightening and chaotic horde of ghosts swarming around the graveyard. One was supposed to remain silent near these beings and there was no running or laughing in the cemetery. If people did not act properly, the insulted and aggravated beings of the death might raise their wrath against the infringer. To wrath of kalma manifested itself in diseases and misfortune.

A fierce tietäjä might purchase some kalma power from the guardian spirit of the cemetery to support the tietäjä’s own ends. This was, however, quite dangerous. Sometimes the death-folk overpowered their master and drove them to despair and madness. Some people also believed that death-folk could wander from the cemetery to pick up the soul of a fatally sick person and carry it into the underworld. Ordinary people would not usually see this grim parade, but the dying person, the tietäjä and the animals were able to sense of the passing of death.

Photo: Folk healer Rotikko-Pekka washing a sick person in Maaninka 1927. These kinds of purification ceremonies were often conducted so that the sick person was sitting on wooden boards used to carry dead people. Ahti Rytkönen / Finnish National Board of Antiquities, Creative Commons BY 4.0.

#taivaannaula #finland #folklore #folkreligion #folkhealing #finnougric #savo #maaninka #healing #traditional #mythology #death #kalma #deathrituals #nordic #FinnishHistory
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The Finnish name for November (marraskuu) comes from the old word ‘marras’, meaning ‘dead’. In November, frost kills all vegetation and the dark frozen ground lays still almost like it was dead. Plants prepare for winter and nightly temperatures get colder. Other names for November include ‘keurikuu’ (Kekri month) and ‘routakuu’ (frost-month).

It was said that if winter began in November it would not last long, contrary to winter that started in October or December. Cold weather in November predicted the winter would be mild at least until Candle’s Day in early February.

November was a busy time for fishermen, as it was said that the strongest fish nets and luckiest traps were made during this month. Nets and traps were supposed to be completed by Antti’s Day (November 30).

It was also believed that wood cut in November had good resistance against rotting, and hence timbers for buildings were often cut in November. At the home farm the cattle's health was strengthened by washing the animals with a water mixed with marsh labrador tea.

Photo: SA-kuva, Creative Commons BY 4.0.

#taivaannaula #finland #karelia #folklore #folkreligion #finnougric #traditional #traditionalbuilding #logbuilding #nordic #handicraft #traditionalcrafts #november #winter #workingman
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The time after Kekri and before Martti’s Day (November 10) was a special time for the beginning new year. The old year was followed by 'Jakoaika' (literally 'divide-time'), which was a period of sacred time between the new and the old year. During Jakoaika things belonging to the old year were done for the last time and things belonging to the new year were done for the first time. With proper and careful acts luck was transferred from the previous year to the next.

Jakoaika was said to last from Kekri or Simo's Day to Martti, and in some areas it was the time between the earlier Mikko's Day and Kekri. People also talked about time of 'Kekri peace' which was similar to Christmas peace. For servants, Kekri was followed by a 'römppä week', also called cat week or personal week. As the name suggests, it was a vacation week between the end of old service and beginning of a new, which potentially meant moving to another household.

Jakoaika was needed to balance the solar and lunar years with each other, because of the 12-day yearly gap between the years. Because of this, Jakoaika also symbolised the whole year in miniature shape, which is particularly evident from weather predictions. One moment of sunshine was, for instance, said to correspond with nine days of sunshine in the summer. If it was cloudy during Jakoaika, the summer would be wet.

The sacred time was spent in silence and idleness. Noisy and messy works in particular were avoided. Laundry was not to be washed nor animals to be slaughtered. One was not allowed spin wool or shear sheep, as it would mean that wolves would tear the animals. Suitable quiet works included fixing nets and fish traps. Boys and girls also made spells to see the appearance of their future spouse, and observed omens which told about the happiness of their future family life.

Spirits were said to be walking on earth on this time, and people were susceptible to catch diseases. Pregnant cows, mares and sheep had to be handled with special care so that they would not be harmed. All the things necessary for the success of the house were believed to be full of special power. Giving it away was dangerous because as a result the house could face bad times. Because of this, nothing was given away to neighbours or anyone else. It was said that whatever was given away could not be replaced by something new.

During Jakoaika large bread was baked to represent the end of the harvest year. The bread was kept in the barn and put on the table for Christmas. The bread was finally eaten in the spring on the first day of sowing. A small piece was saved and put into the sowing bushel and fed to the animal pulling the plough. This way fertile harvest luck was transferred from the previous year to the new harvest.

Photo: Maivian Pidot / www.maivianpidot.fi.

#taivaannaula #folklore #folkreligion #finnougric #kekri #nordic #finnishhistory #finnishculture #finland #traditional #mythology #sourdough #bread
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Kekri was traditionally the year's biggest feast - the last and first day of the harvest year. By then field work was completed and livestock brought into winter shelters. It was time to enjoy from the harvest bounty, to ensure luck for the new year and to remember ancestor spirits. Many of Kekri’s beliefs and traditional customs were since transferred to Finnish Christmas.

Kekri was not traditionally celebrated on an exact date, in fact, the date varied from late summer to late autumn. Even the houses of the same parish might celebrate Kekri at different times. This was only natural because Kekri was held whenever a house completed their harvest work, and different houses got the work done on different times. In later times, date of celebration for Kekri was fixed to November 1st. The word ‘Kekri’ (also köyri, köyry, keyri ja keuri) comes from the Proto-Finno-Ugric *kekraj, meaning wheel or cycle.

Spells ensuring fertility of the fields and good luck for cattle, sheep and horses, were part of Kekri. On the night before Kekri, a sheep was sacrificed as an offering to the protector of domestic animals and the bones were placed in the sheep pen. The animals were given the very best food and the master of house personally fed his horses.

People woke up early on Kekri morning to heat the houses. Being awake early predicted vibrant spirits for the coming year. The unfortunate who woke up last was mocked and called 'köyri’. In the morning people prepared flatbread bread, meat, fish, curds, milk and kama. Later a roast was made from potatoes, meat and sausages. Throughout the day people enjoyed some liquor and beer brewed specially for Kekri. The first parts of all the dishes were given as an offering to the spirits by leaving food to sacrificial trees or stones or in the barn.

It was said that food had to be offered to anyone who wanted to eat, regardless of whether they were familiar people or foreigners. Generosity brought good luck to the house. One was supposed to eat nine times, and food was not cleared away from the tables. It was customary that the master of the house got drunk, which would guarantee that crops would grow the next year. On the other hand, the person sowing the house’s seeds in the next spring was not allowed to be intoxicated, or otherwise crops would be ruined.

Children often travelled from house to house dressed as “köyri boogeymans”. A little more scarier version of this was the köyripukki dressed in a coat turned upside down. These visitors demanded something to eat and drink from the house. If they were not treated with hospitality, they threatened to break the oven. Often, however, an agreement was reached and the guests performed plays and dances.

Spirits of the ancestors were also believed to visit the living folk on Kekri. Sauna was warmed for the spirits with warm water, whisks, soaps and towels. After this the spirits were called to come and eat as the people went together to sauna. A table was left full of the best foods so that the ancestor spirits could “nourish in peace”.

Photos from Taivaannaula’s kekri celebration 2016.

#taivaannaula #folklore #folkreligion #finnougric #kekri #autumn #finland #finnishculture #nordic #finnishhistory #halloween #traditional
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10/26/17
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Simo's or Simuna's Day (October 28) brings the Kekri feast right around the corner. The old, weakened year was coming to an end, and the new year had not yet begun. According to some beliefs, the old year ends on Simuna's Day, and a period between the years called “Jakoaika” or “Kekri week” begins. The acts done during this period were believed to affect one's luck for the whole coming year.

Around this time of the year, days are rapidly darkening as the winter's dark heart approaches. On Simuna's Day, the sun was said to travel to the eyes of the Bigger Dipper, proceed there to the Big Dipper's neck on Kaisa's Day (March 25) and finally go away altogether on Joulu (Christmas). The dark winter's back was not broken until January.

After Simo the ground and small waters finally begin to freeze. Ice roads, formed during October and November, made travelling easier for people. It was said that "Simo makes bridges, Martti (November 11) strengthens the ground and Antti (November 30) drives with shafts". Simuna's Day was the best time for fishing whitefish, vendace and spawning salmon. Fishermen held their gatherings and small feasts on this day.

In the farms people slaughtered pigs to make Kekri sausages and performed other preparations for the upcoming celebration. A folk song “The Great Ox” is associated with this autumn slaughter. The song tells the tale of a mythical ox that is slaughtered in the end of the yearly cycle to bring good luck. The song has been sung during the Kekri feast.

#taivaannaula #folklore #folkreligion #kekri #finnougric #traditional #slaughter #finnishcuisine #traditionalfoods #sausages #traditionalrecipes #earthly #autumn
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10/25/17
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The arable lands of Western Finland and Uusimaa are Finland’s traditional rug-weaving regions. Originally, large and heavy rugs (‘ryijy’) were used to cover beds, boats and sledges. In later times beautifully weaved rugs became popular wall decorations that were used especially during feasts and celebrations. Special wedding rugs (‘vihkiryijy’) were placed under the feet of the couple when they were wed.

Wedding rugs have their counterparts in the culture of Germanic peoples and the ancient Roman marriage ceremony took place while standing on an animal hide. The original meaning of the custom was to protect the young couple from harm, and to promote fertility and good luck. Ryijys often have ancient protective symbols such an octagram and swastikas. The rugs also often feature trees figures that are an ancient symbol of fertility and growth.

Wedding rugs can be associated with the belief that is was dangerous for the bride to touch bare ground. This belief is widespread among the Finno-Ugric peoples. When a Mordvin bride arrived at her groom’s home, she was lifted from the horse carriage and carried inside. When a Karelian bride first time placed her feet on the yard of her groom’s family, she had to greet the local guardian spirit. In this way, the bride ensured her luck and health in the new house.

#taivaannaula #finland #folklore #folkreligion #finnougric #weddings #weddingphoto #finnishhistory #nordic #traditional #symbols #folklife #finnishculture
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10/16/17
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Saturday is the first day of the year’s winter half.

The traditional Finnish calendar follows the Nordic division of the year, which separates the year into winter and summer halves. The center point of the winter half is around Heikki’s Day in January and the center point of summer is in mid-July. The year is, thus, divided into four parts.

October 14, or ‘Winter Day’, starts the winter. In traditional wooden calendar rods the day is symbolised by a leafless tree, the sign of winter’s first day. The winter ends on April 14, called ‘Summer Day’.

The nights on October 13, 14 and 15 were called winter nights. They are contrasted by three summer nights in mid-April. Winter nights are symbolised in Finnish calendar rods with three strokes.

Around Winter Day, the earth begins to freeze and people’s attention is turned from local fields to the yard and house. On the other hand, this is the season for hunting and working in the forests. Curiously, people in Häme predicted the coming winter’s weather from a pig’s spleen on Winter Day.

#taivaannaula #folklore #folkreligion #finnougric #finland #runecalendar #RunicCalendar #winter #autumn #nordic #finlandhistory #finlandnature #trees #leafless
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10/11/17
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