December 6, 2009

Independence Day in Finland

This is the day that Finns ce
lebrate their independence from Russia. Shops decorate with the blue and white of Finland's flag, and bakeries sell cakes with blue and white frosting. Of course, there are flag-raisings, speeches, and visits to war memorials. One tradition doesn't happen until evening, when many Finns light two candles in each window.
Finland is one of the Nordic countries, along with Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Nordic means “northern lands,” and these countries are Europe's most northern countries. The name Finland comes from Germanic languages in which Finn meant “hunter.”

Although a lot of people (including me!) casually refer to Finland as a Scandinavian country, it is not part of Scandinavia, which is a sub-set of Nordic countries t
hat includes only Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. All the Nordic countries have off-center crosses on their flags and share some aspects of culture and history.

Read some Finnish tales.
Here is some fun-and-Finnish Christmas stuff, including a virtual advent calendar (with the “Calendar“ link on the left side of the screen).

is fun in Christmas because Lapland (the northernmost province of Finland) has reindeer farms and Santa-spotting snowmobile trips, International Games of the First Snow, and winter games such as an ice marathon, motor sledging competitions, and even reindeer sled races. (I wonder if these are the “reindeer games” that Rudolph wasn't allowed to participate in.)
Some of the most popular events are Polar Ski Track and Arctic Golf of Santa Clause. Santa Park is an underground cave cavern where tourists can bake and decorate gingerbreads in the Gingerbread Kitchen, learn elf skills in the Elf School or make Christmas decorations in the Elf Workshop. Elsewhere in Lapland, tourists can take a troll tour in the Finnish forests, and they can even get a reindeer driving license!

Some tourists visiting Lapland in the winter stay at the Arctic Snow Hotel. The hotel, restaurant, church, and even a sauna (steam-bath) are all built of snow!

Cook using Finnish recipes – the prune soup sounds a bit scary, but how about those gingerbread cookies? (Scroll down for the recipes.)

There's a Venn about the Finns!
A Venn diagram is a graph that shows how things relate to each other. A typical Venn diagram looks like this:

This diagram shows that there is an overlap in the groups PETS and MAMMALS. It gives two example of creatures that are both pets and mammals. (Obviously, there are lots of other pets and mammals other than the ones listed. We shouldn't ever look at a Venn diagram and assume that it is a comprehensive list of everything in each of the categories or overlapping sections.)

The Venn diagram below doesn't show overlap. Instead it shows that one thing is a subset of another thing. Every single Scandinavian country is also a Nordic country, but there are two Nordic countries that are not in Scandinavia.

Can you think of some things to create Venn diagrams for? How about these ideas: THINGS THAT ARE WHITE and FOODS; QUADRILATERALS, RECTANGLES, DIAMONDS or RHOMBUSES, and SQUARES; NAMES OF ROMAN GODS and ITEMS IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM.

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