It's all about the only native Finnish horse breed!

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“Vappu harnesses the foals in front of the swinging summer”

“Vappu varsat valjastaa kesän keikkuvan etehen”

Another interesting piece of information about the old Finnish traditions. I guess it’s not very surprising that Vappu has been one of the most common names of finnhorses. ;)

On Vappu, or Valpuri (May 1), the “little summer” is beginning and will last until mid-summer. Sowing could begin. There were only eight weeks to Juhannus, during which all the work on the spring fields had to be done.

In southern Finland Vappu was another day for letting the cattle out of the winter shelter in addition to Jyrki. The customs of the day ensured cattle would be safe, prosperous and give a lot of milk. Cattle luck was strengthened, among other things, by walking around the forest pasture while carrying protective objects and gently wiping the cows with a whisk made from the new fertile spring branches. In the morning shepherds played their alder and goat horns and gave cows their bells.

Horses were allowed to swim in the stream on Vappu, so that flies would not bother them in the summer. People also gained health and vitality by bathing in the icy water of creeks and rivers. It was said that “Vappu comes with a whisk under its arm” and at least in the Karelian Isthmus, where the spring arrives early, people could actually bath with new whisks on Vappu.

In Satakunta people used to ring the cowbells and shout: “Vappu come, Vappu come, come to the barn!” so that cattle would come home from the forest in the summer. In South Ostrobothnia women attached bells to their skirts and dressed up in bizarre clothes. Then they run across the village ringing the bells. Other villagers tried to stay hidden and surprise the runners by pouring water on them. This game was said to ensure there would be plenty of milk in the summer.

There were also other playful traditions associated with Vappu. On some regions people tried to pull pranks on each other. One person might be asked to bring some non-existing thing, such as “tail-pulling-wood”, from the neighbour. If the neighbour was in on the joke, he would tell the unsuspecting person to go and ask from the next house.

It was said that “the cuckoo sings on Vappu, at least in its nest inside the pine tree or in a uuttu”. Uuttu or uu was a birdhouse placed on a tree near the lake shore. Every house had its own uuttu. The nests were cleaned for the spring so they would be ready when the “uuttu birds”, such as goldeneyes and mergansers, migrated back from the south. When the birds begin their laying period, people took few eggs for food from the nest, but not all of them.

Anssi A. / Suomenusko Facebook page


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Finnish Team for Vincennes 2015

From Pariisin kylmäveriottelun suomenhevososallistujat valittu ( 28.1.2015)

Metkutus visiting France. Photo: Suomen Hippos photo bank

The annual meeting for Nordic coldblood trotters takes place in Vincennes, Paris on  the19th and 22nd of February 2015. This will be the 14th annual meeting. The French trotting association calls teams from Finland, Sweden and Norway to compete in two races, Prix des Trotteurs Sang-Froid and Prix de Pays Nordiques – Trophee Järvsöfaks.

The Finnish team for this year was announced last week. Hiskin Muisto, Irwin, Passiton and Rapin Aatos will travel to Paris. Good luck!

EDIT 12.2.2015: Irwin had to scratch – Tosi-Jänkä will replace him (from

See how the Finn horses have succeeded in these races earlier by clicking here.

The Swedish Coldblood Team for Vincennes 2015


Cali Maks (trainer Jan-Olov Persson)
(trainer Jörgen Westholm)
Järvsö Björn
(trainer Jan-Olov Persson)
(trainer Jerker Bjurman)

I haven’t found the information about the Norwegians yet, though…

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Merry Joulu!

Little Epeli sends his greetings too! (photos by Viivi)

For this Christmas I found an interesting piece of text about the Christmas tradition in Finland. The quote below is from “Suomenusko” Facebook page. I’m so glad they translate their posts in English as well! It’s also a great page to visit if you are interested in Finnish history and traditions in general.

There hasn’t been much of difference in our little stable’s life this Christmas – a few extra carrots and spruce branches to munch on, the horses just love them. :)

Joulu was a joyful family feast celebrating the harvest year that brought health, vitality and well-being for the whole year. On joulu people went to sauna, played games and spend good time together, ate well and remembered their ancestors, haltija spirits as well as domestic animals.

Many joulu customs have been transferred from kekri to joulu as the significance of the latter feast has grown in the course of history. Both are family celebrations which involve good food and beer. Similarly to kekri, the spirits of the ancestors for said to visit the living during joulu and sauna was heated for them. Also, luck for the new year was ensured by various customs on both kekri and joulu, and the future was also forecasted in many ways on both occasions.

On joulu, straws – also conifer twigs in some places – were spread on the floor and a decoration made from straws, called himmeli, was hung from the ceiling. The master of house poured a welcoming drink to one sheaf before it was opened and spread on the floor. The master of the house also threw straws between the roof and crane log. If a lot of straws got stuck there, the harvest would be good. If little straw stuck to the roof, the next year would be bad.

Traditional joulu had two elements that have remained strong in the contemporary Finnish culture: sauna and food. Sauna was considered a sacred placed, as is proven by the large number of sayings comparing sauna to a church. The spirit and body were purified in sauna before beginning a feast.

The joulu sauna was heated early so that everyone could wash up before dark and dress clean clothes for the joulu banquet. Foods were placed on the table before sauna in the the same way as in kekri, so that the dead could enjoy their joulu meal while the people bathed in the sauna. The master of the house was the last one to leave from sauna, and it was his duty to prepare everything so that the ancestral spirits could bathe there after the people left.

Foods needed to be offered also to the local spirits before people ate those foods. If a house had a sacrificial tree, small portion of every dish was set on the root of the tree. Food and liquor could also be taken to the barn, put on a bench and placed under the table as an offering. Only after the offerings were placed could people sit down and enjoy their banquet in good company.

Food was important on joulu because it symbolized the abundance of food on the next harvest. Traditional joulu foods include bread, meat dishes, beers and porridge. Foods were kept on the table for whole joulu, and, it was said that if even one dish run out, the house would face poverty in the future. Even the poorer houses did everything they could to get plenty of good food on the table for joulu. Cattle and horses were also treated especially well on joulu, and only the best hay and sometimes even bread and drinks were given to them.

Anssi A. / Suomenusko

Read more about the Finnish folk religion and culture in English here 

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Vote for your favourite post in July

As always, you may choose several posts if you want to. This will help me choose topics for future posts, so please have a minute to view this month’s posts and vote for your favourite(s). :)

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Vote for your favourite post in June 2012

Don’t worry, you can choose several if you want to.

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Vote for your favourite post in May 2012

This poll will be open through June. This time I wish to know, which post was your favourite in May? Don’t worry, you may choose several if it is hard to decide.

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Do you own a horse?

Another poll for you :)

This time I would like to know more about you -do you have a horse of your own?

I have one 7-year old finnhorse mare (our covergirl at facebook by the way ;) ). For the past few months I have been schooling her for riding, and maybe some day we will have a comeback at harness races too… How about you?