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Summer is here and we, the friends of Finland, can't wait to finally book our trips to Finland and enjoy the Nordic summer magic. And while we are still looking forward to the Suomi trip full of anticipation, we will get to know the Finnish teacher Virpi Hach from FinnishToGo and share some of our midsummer dreams with her. Find out what this is all about in this interview.
Virpi, so far I know that you are a Finnish language teacher and also teach German as a second language. You contacted me and asked if I was interested in cooperation. I really like your positive and clearly spoken Instagram video clips. First, tell us all a bit about you.
Mari, at first, I am so happy to get to know you! I was born in Hämeenlinna and I stayed like many Finns in our cottage in Hauho on every weekend. My family is still living there. Now I have been living for over 20 years in Lübeck. My husband and children all speak fluent Finnish and Finland belongs to our daily life. We spend about two months of the year in our cottage in Hauho.
Wow, I have also lived in Hämeenlinna for about five years. It is really a beautiful small town with a castle, lakes, and the Aulanko Park. Why is juhannus so special in Finland and what are the most important juhannus traditions?
After long winter, the Finns feels like kind of freedom and happiness to have those amazing long nights. The preparations for juhannus start very early. If you do not have your own cottage, you certainly will get at least an invitation to visit one. Our food tradition is so important. We plan this very in detail, but with love. We stay outside by playing for example “mölkky”. Early in the morning you already search the best birch branches for your “saunavihta or -vasta” (it depends on where you live). I was so lucky to get to know, how to tie saunavihta the right way and which branches are suitable for vihta.
Of course, every year all the young girls who are visiting us look for seven beautiful flowers and they jump over seven barriers. The flowers are laying overnight under your pillow, and you can, hopefully, dream about your future husband.
Juhannus without sauna is not juhannus for me. We also say that the women are the most beautiful after sauna and of course we also want to be it in juhannus.
Oh, that all sounds so lovely Finnish and romantic. What do you eat in juhannus?
Normally we buy new potatoes, dill, and fish at the market. We prepare “sillimössö”: sour cream with herring, dill, onions, and lemon. We bake a traditional strawberry cake with local Finnish strawberries. We also go on a boat trip with our family and, in the afternoon, we visit the Vihavuosi Café half an hour away of our cottage.
When someone wants to spend juhannus time in Finland where should they go and what should they do? What are the “musts”?
You should rent a cottage or, if you are invited by your Finnish friends, go to visit them. Do not stress yourself. Eat delicious Finnish new potatoes, salmon and do not forget your sauna bier or lonkero. Try the birch whisk and jump into water. Enjoy that you have the possible just stay closed to nature and find out the little messages of it like the waves of water, birds, wild strawberries, and the most beautiful sunset.
Since we cannot spend the juhannus in Finland you are preparing a little Midsummer Dreams livestream event with a tasting package on 19 pm Thursday 17th June. What can we expect?
During the livestream we will talk a bit about Finnish juhannus and summer traditions. Of course, we will taste and talk about the Finnish delicacies. I will also tell how to have a small talk with Finns – yes, it is possible! And I will of course answer to all your questions. The livestream event will take place on the FinnishToGo Facebook site and is free and open to all. We will speak easy English and Finnish. Tervetuloa – welcome!
You will also have a short Finnish language online course two days later on Saturday 19th June. Tell us a little bit about that.
Yes, I am very excited about the short course, because the program is exactly what I have been dreaming about. First, I will introduce “Tohinatiinat” Mira and Pauliina, two crazy women from Finland. They will offer us an improvisation theatre show in which they try to show us, for example, how to make Finnish pancakes. During the show, we will also learn about the special relationship of the Finns with “ämpäri” (bucket).
The Finnish short course includes also a short virtual journey to Finland and much more. In the course, we will speak easy English and Finnish. The short course will cost 39€ (normal price 49€). You can ask more and sign up by sending me E-mail: virpi(at)hach.info. It doesn’t matter if you are beginner or more advanced Finnish learner – let’s have fun and learn Finnish together!
What kind of Finnish courses you have and who can sign up, when and how?
Currently there are running three online courses: A1 for the very beginners, A1.1. advanced beginners, as well as A2 and B1. In September, are the next courses planned A1 for the very beginners will start again and, in another courses, there is also place. Just ask me and we can have look which course would be suitable for you.
Virpi, thank you very much for the interview. I'm looking forward to the Midsummer Dreams livestream! Finally, I would like to recommend a very interesting livestream with delicious Finnish drinks and delicacies as well as conversations about Finland: Kalsarikännit # 14 - Jyväskylä Region Edition together with our cooperation partner René Schwarz from FinnTouch and Visit Jyväskylä Region. I spoke to René briefly about this.
René, on Friday, July 2nd, it will finally be that time again. The next Kalsarikännit livestream is coming up, now it's the 14th edition. For those who have never been there: What do we have to imagine by that?
The idea for the Kalsarikännit livestreams came to me right at the beginning of the pandemic. I had already thought about holding tastings with Finnish beers and other drinks - originally in some local location. But now that was no longer possible and then the thought occurred to me: Why don't we just do it online?
So I asked you about it and to my great joy you didn't find the idea completely stupid, you were immediately enthusiastic. So we put together a tasting package with Finnish beers and Lonkero, announced an appointment and shortly afterwards everything was sold out.
How did the first livestream go and what happened next?
The first livestream - we still do it today via the Facebook page of my FinnTouch blog - was also a great success and the people had a lot of fun. We tasted the drinks “together” according to a set order and exchanged ideas about Finland. People could contribute to the content at any time via live chat. It continues to this day.
My colleague Tanja Frisch has been a co-host since episode 3 and a really great little community has formed. We did a lot of nice themed programs, for example with beers from Lapland or the lake area. Our virtual Kalsarikännit Christmas party, “pikkujoulut”, will also remain unforgettable. I never would have thought that the connection to people could become so close and warm “only” through this streaming.
And next there will be a very special evening. For the first time you have been able to arrange a direct cooperation with a Finnish destination. What can we expect from the Jyväskylä Region Edition?
Yes, it will really be a very special episode that I'm really looking forward to. In cooperation with Visit Jyväskylä Region, we are doing an entire theme week on FinnTouch's Facebook and Instagram channels. So there will be live videos from beautiful places in central Finland and to top it off we will all celebrate Kalsarikännit on Friday, July 2nd. We will have inspiring guests with us, especially Alexander Richter from the Potsdam-Jyväskylä Circle of Friends, one of the most enthusiastic and committed Finland friends I know.
We will also taste four delicious craft beers from the Hiisi microbrewery, organic blueberry raw chocolate from Foodin and crispy Hot Rod chips. We have organized and put these products together especially for this evening. Most packages are already sold out, but those who are quick can get hold of a tasting package now. As always, we start at 8 p.m. and go on for a long time (laughs). Be all there and let's spend an informative and happy evening and bring a bit of that Finland feeling into your living room at home!
René, thank you very much for taking the time to tell us a little bit about Kalsarikännit and the upcoming event. You can order the tasting package for Kalsarikännit #14 - Jyväskylä Region Edition here.
Do you want to win the Midsummer Dreams tasting package or Virpi’s Finnish online short course on the 19/06/21? Click to the raffle post on our Facebook site (LINK) or Instagram and write under the post if you want to win the tasting package and/or the Finnish course. If you want to give one of them as a gift to another person, you can tag him/her on the post.
It will make us happy and grateful when you also the post and like the Facebook sites of Little Finland and FinnishToGo.
You can participate until Thursday 10th of June 2021 at 11:59 pm.
Conditions of participation:
• You must be at least 18 years old to participate.
• The contest will take place at a limited time specified in this article. Comments posted later will no longer count towards this prize draw.
• By taking part in the competition, you agree to these terms and conditions.
• There is a prize consisting of different products to be won (see detailed description in the article).
• Participation takes place by posting a comment in the form of an answer to a question specified in this article under the associated post linked here on the Little Finland Facebook page. Facebook is in no way involved in the implementation of the competition.
• Participation is free; Each person can only take part in the competition once.
• The winner will be determined by Little Finland and notified in writing within 7 days of the end of the competition.
• If you have not responded to the notification within 7 days, we will determine a new winner and notify them.
• A cash payment of the price is not possible.
Text Mari Raatikainen, Virpi Hach & René Schwarz
* Applies to standard deliveries in Germany. For delivery times to other countries and information on calculating the delivery date, see here
Prices are tax included