Independent Finns 100 years (#94/100)

Lighting the two candles for Finnish Maiden at 18 hrs

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Birthday is always a time to go back the memory lane. To recall how the concerned person got there. As the celebrated character today is a country – Finland – we have to go back a hundred and more years to the times of not being independent as a state, to the troubled times, to sad events and sorrow FOR and INSIDE the nation. Rolling down the road to present days in Finland, there were the years of reconstruction, remaking the souls and the buildings in 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s and still in 1950’s. I wonder whether this all has made us a people with such lamenting songs and gloomy ballads – or is it in the character of Finns? However, there have been many wonderful occasions and matters in Finland throughout these years: solid education for all, good care for the elderly, fancy sports events, creation of many natural parks and engineering competence wonders – to name a few of the brand factors.

Finland is often seen and discussed as Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito), as Finland geographically DOES seem like a maiden, raising one arm (used to raise two). She was originally called Aura, as the Aura River in Turku, the old capital of Finland. So as a matter of fact, we are celebrating the 100 years of Aura, the blue and white lady with bright eyes, a lot like the Aurora of fairytales; sunrise. Finnish Maiden is a classical guardian character, as so many people around the earth have. Some might even call her the Mother Earth or Finland.

I am wishing this lady, Finnish Maiden now a beautiful birthday, with loads of wisdom and kindness of heart in all local and global matters. I wish she will stay still when the suspicious minds fight at each other, I wish she will be the negotiator of many conflicts as before, I wish she will carry on protecting the mattimeikäläinen (or Joe Public of UK, Pepito Pérez of Spain, Si Anu of Malaysia, Pierre Dupont of France…), I wish she will be the real lady she has been and still is. And I wish she never loses her SISU, the miraculous strength we all live by when all other energy is lost.

To balance the nostalgy and eloquence of the previous lines, let’s take a piece of poem by Jorma Etto, Suomalainen (Finn) with translation of mine there below:

“Suomalainen on sellainen joka vastaa kun ei kysytä,

kysyy kun ei vastata, ei vastaa kun kysytään,

sellainen joka eksyy tieltä, huutaa rannalla

ja vastarannalla huutaa toinen samanlainen: metsä raikuu, kaikuu, hongat humajavat.”

-Jorma Etto


[A Finn is one that replies when not asked,

asks when not replied to, does not reply when asked,

one who loses track, shouts on the shore

and on the opposite shore there is one just the same: the forest blares, echoes, the pinetrees hum.]

Saunas of TAKK (#93/100)

Nirva C sauna stove

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Remember the blogs of Coffee (#40) and Winter (#80)? Well, one very important Finnish element is missing: SAUNA. How could I have forgot it until blog #93? Almost as impossible as forgetting your own head – in Finland.

Saunas and us. History of sauna in very brief, in size of this blog. Sauna [sauna], not [soona], is most likely the most sacred place of the Finns (forest is a bad competitor). It used to be the cleanest place in the home, the warmest (well, yeah) and the most spiritual one. Did-you-know that the name sauna refers to the stove, pack of hot stones that gives you the steam with water thrown on the pile. Sauna in the olden days was the place to be born in, to smoke meat, to wash clothes, to dry grains and to be washed for the last time before the eternal journey, to mention perhaps the most important functions. Even nowadays, you do not curse in the sauna, as the sauna elf (saunatonttu) might get mad at you and then the hell is loose. All in all, sauna is a haven and perhaps even a heaven to many.

Saunas of TAKK. There are three of them (to my knowledge). I am not sure whether they are cleaner than the rest of the premises or whether they are very spiritual places, but we sure warm them up many times a month, do not dare to curse there (too much), some of us are “reborn” there after the working hours and sometimes we enjoy grain there in a more refined form – after working hours, of course. Many meeting are finished by having a TAKK sauna, pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) is certainly started in all TAKK saunas and recreation days are nothing without the sauna.

PS. I do have to add SISU on the list. More about that in #94.

Lovely, Intriguing Midsummer (#50/100)

Midsummer – the nightless night in Finland

This is the Time. To unwind.

To change into flip-flops (I just counted, I have 11 pairs…),

to listen to the summer rain drops,

to smell the cut grass,

and lay still in the world class:

Midsummer of Finland.

– Ulla

First of May – Vappu in Finland (#34/100)

Vappu is here!

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

And how do we know ”Vappu”, our First of May is getting closer? It’s raining cats & dogs and snow in all of it’s forms one can find….

Rime (kuura), frost (härmä) and little cute snow flakes (hiutale), no no no, but sleet (räntä), slush (sohjo) and real flurry (mylläkkä) are more like it. That’s when it’s finally spring and Finnish Vappu. If we Finns were sensible, we would stay indoors, have a cup of coffee or a shot of strong liqueur or two in the village bar, but no such rational behaviour is detected in the streets and marketplaces of Finland 100 years. Continue reading

Eggs in Many Baskets? (28#/100)

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Or happy chicken in the house?


Well, I’ll try to be clever today. You have chickens. Who have many eggs. You have a hen house and a people house. And you want to have scrambled eggs. What happens if you put all your eggs in one basket and while walking from the hen house to the people house, drop it? That’s it. You’ll stay hungry. What happens if you divide the eggs into two baskets? You’ll end up juggling with two baskets, have no free hands to open the doors with, and you still drop them all. Still hungry. What if you have many baskets, divide the eggs into let’s say three (or x) baskets, take them separately inside, the odds say, dividing the favourable walks (3/x) with all the potential possibilities (the chicken crash the eggs, the lightning hits the basket, the rain starts, your shoe breaks down, etc. etc. (1 342 5754 times), the chance of having them all inside intact is pretty small. This is no good either. Continue reading

“Pottuilla” or Not? – April Fool’s Games Ahead (#24/100)

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Finland is a trustworthy country. Yes. Absolutely. One can honestly say, you can rely on Finns. We speak the truth, no matter what (to the extent that it is not so sociable or even polite…). BUT. April Fool’s Day catches us in the Northern Europe as the others around the world. The tradition of becoming slightly fool and saying whatsoever on this spring day to trick the others to do weird things, goes deep in the tradition and is soooo understandable after the loooong winter days.

It's the growth season soon.

Potatoe or potato? Remember to trick your mates!

Continue reading

Topics 100 – Suomi Finland 100 (#22/100)

Officially IN

TAKK International Blog IN!

TAKK International Blog has been accepted to the Suomi Finland 100 programme. For the celebration, our International Blog in TAKK or takki as we call it (meaning coat) is blue and white, pls see the main site header and the beautiful new logo we have the privilege to use. We have reached already more than two hundred visitors, with almost 750 views in 10 different countries. This is wonderful! Now it is time to boost ourselves for the next almost 80 postings. There are many more topics to cover. Continue reading

What about the Finnish Women in Vocational Education? (#18/100)

Let me give you a few facts to celebrate this Women’s Day in Finland 100 years and TAKK 55:

  • International Women’s Day has been celebrated on the 8th of March since the beginning of 1900’s
  • Finland has been celebrating this day since 1990, though Finland was the third in the world and first in Europe to give women the right to vote and to be nominated in elections in 1906
  • Tampere Adult Education Foundation board has 3 women out of the 9 members
  • Tampere Adult Education Centre board of directors has 3 women out of 7 members
  • 41 % of TAKK students are women.

TAKK’s women drive the busses, manage the teams, guard the shopping malls, nurse the elderly, weld the metal and make the electrical installations. Women in VET. Happy Womens’ Day to everyone!

Happy Women's Day

We are “every women” in VET

Remembering the Kalevala Heroes’ spirit in 2017 (#16/100)

by Ulla Virtanen

Today we celebrate Finnish culture and Kalevala, our national epic compiled by professor and scientist Mr Elias Lönnrot. Kalevala is a collection of at least 200 hundred year old stories and sagas in ”Kalevala Metre” (eights syllables), all about disputes, revenges, courtships and robberies between ancient Finns. All the reality television and movie heroes turn absolutely pale in comparison with the heroes of Kalevala. Do you know them? And what do they have to do with the Finnish spirit of the present times?

Continue reading