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Tapani is the day of the horsemen

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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The Mythical Origin Of The Finnish Horse

Source: Suomenusko (native Finnish religion) Facebook page, posted 6.9.2013

suomenusko_sinimerikallio

Photo by Sini Merikallio

In Finland horses have assisted people in their work and in war probably since the Stone Age. The early presence of domesticated horses is evident from the fact that the word for a horse (hevonen) is known in all Baltic-Finnish languages. In addition, the words for ‘steed’ and ‘riding’ also have the similar origins in these languages.

The prehistoric horses around the Baltic Sea region belonged to the same Northern European common breed. Modern Finnhorses descend from this same breed. Horse-related objects as bridles have been found in Iron Age graves, which tells that horses were highly valued in the Iron Age society. Prominent men and women apparently had their horses buried with them.

In medieval Europe, Häme and Karelia regions for known for their horses and horsemen. Trade flourished around the Baltic Sea. In 1229 Pope Gregory IX complained in his letter that people of Vuojola (Gotland) dared to sell horses to the heathen Finns. Karelia, sometimes called Mare Karelia, provided horses for Hansa merchants who exported them to Central Europe along with other goods.

The head of the horse was made of stone, hooves out of rock and legs out of iron.

In Finnish mythology the horse has an iron origin. The first foal was said to have been forged in a smithy located in a sacred grove or inside the world mountain. The head of the horse was made of stone, hooves out of rock and legs out of iron. The back of the foal was forged from metal. As Väinämöinen rode the iron horse above the waters of primeval sea, a malicious stranger shot his horse, and the old tietäjä fell into the ocean.

Horses are also present in spells and incantations. Commonly spells were used to protect horses from hazards and to prevent them from escaping when horses were released to summer pastures. In some spells horse’s spirit is also called to banish malicious forces (kateet) or to assist the tietäjä in his work. Few spells that were used to stop wounds from bleeding call the mythical first foal (Hiiden varsa) to stop the blood flow.


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Happy Tapaninpäivä!

Finnish Taxi drom 1920s (Wikimedia commons)

December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, is a traditional celebration day for the Finnish horsemen. :)

Tapani’s Day tomorrow has been an important day to horsemen. Men woke up early in the morning and went to sauna. 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.

After luck with horses was ensured, people went horse racing. Tapani was the day for harnessing young foals for the first time and training them. Sometimes people even rode inside the house. Inside the house 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.

After the more calmer joulu feast, Tapani was convenient time for young people – and also older ones – for more wild merrymaking. 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 might 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