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Tapani is the day of the horsemen

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Taivaannaula is a Finnish organization dedicated to preserving and fostering the native Finnish religion and culture, Suomenusko (from times prior to christianisation in Finland). They share pieces of information on their Facebook page as well.  I find these posts very interesting and believe you might enjoy them too. :)

Many of the traditions have something to do with horses, but today is Tapaninpäivä, the day of the horsemen!

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Photo by Chewel96 of Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

After the more calmer Joulu feast, Tapani (December 26) was convenient time for young people – and also older ones – for more wild merrymaking. People woke up early visited their neighbours. If there was no fire in the house’s oven upon their arrival, the guests threatened to “break the oven”. The master of the house could only persuade them to not go through with it by offering a drink for each man.

Men also went to sauna early in the morning. After that they went to stables and enjoyed a soup made of rabbit or squirrel meat together with some beer and liquor. Eating this sacrificial meal was said to make horses prosper in the coming year. However, the bones in the soup had to remain intact and kept in the stable, otherwise the horsemen’s luck with horses would suffer.

Tapani was the day for harnessing young foals for the first time and training them. When the older folk went visiting relatives, the young ones went to a sleigh ride, or Tapani’s ride. Sometimes people mounted their horses and even rode inside the house. There beer was poured on the horse’s head, back and mane. Then the horse was given some beer to drink and oats to eat. Finally, the rider also drank from the same pint and rode outside.

Girls gave ”Tapani’s thread” to the boys they liked, and the boys attached these threads to their hats. From the number of threads it could be seen who was the most popular boy among the girls. At the same time quality of the threads was compared and people could deduce who would make a skilled wife.

On Tapani’s Day groups of strangely-clad men or boys travelled from house to house. Their leader had many names like ”Tapani’s pukki” or ”the Old Joulu Man”. These creatures could wear, for instance, a fur coat turned upside down and a tar-dipped whisk as a tail. If the house treated the pukki poorly, it began to rage. Yet if the pukki was generously welcomed, it wished the house and the people the best of luck and success. The pukki sang:

”Let the cows give milk,
The sheeps carry twins,
Let the cat’s tail curl,
Dog’s tail shrivel,
and pig’s tail become knotted!”

Translation: Anssi A. / Suomenusko Facebook page

More pickings from Taivaannaula:

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