Tag Archives: reindeer race

This Week in Oulu: Laskiainen, Ystävänpäivä and Reindeer Racing

16 Feb

This week saw both Laskiainen and Ystävänpäivä, twists on other well-known holidays, as well as a reindeer carnival! This week has proved that while the winters are cold there are plenty of ways to keep entertained during February and help wait out the worst part of the winter. Keep on reading to find out more…


Otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day/Mardi Gras  it’s a day for feasting before the traditional Lent fast. Here in Finland it’s celebrated by eating traditional pea and ham soup, laskiaispulla and sliding down a hill on a toboggan. Traditionally, it was said that sledding while yelling at the top of your lungs would bring good luck and a plentiful harvest; the further you slid the higher your crops would grow.

Here in Oulu the students got together and slid down a massive snow-bank next to the hockey arena. It was common for villages to gather and sled together and the tradition continues, students rolling out their graduation hats to play music, sled and have fun! It’s an excellent way to break the monotony of winter and make the most of the outdoors while the temperatures are beginning to rise and the sun is out a little longer. I played it safe and opted for the traditional pea and ham soup lunch menu (with free hot chocolate!) with a Finnish friend, indoors.

Yummy laskiaispulla


Thursday of this week was ystävänpäivä: literally ‘friend’s day’. Unlike the American counterpart it’s not really celebrated here and is really more of a day to tell your friends how great they are. Couples can still buy heart-shaped chocolates and cards but it’s not as overdone and, as with many other holidays, is dismissed as too cheesy and Americanised to be worth bothering with.

In Oulu the students of the Erasmus network set up a ‘cupid delivery day’ – you could pay for flowers, chocolate or balloons to be delivered to your crush on campus, even if they had a lecture!

‘Good friends are like stars; even when you can’t see them you know they’re always there’

I bought my boyfriend a similar card to this =)

Reindeer Racing

To finish off the week there was a reindeer carnival in the market square, featuring kids’ entertainment, market stalls and reindeer racing! I would have caught a picture but it was so quick, I barely saw a flash of reindeer and they were gone! Next time I’ll have to get a better viewing spot! The city centre was packed with people, more than I’ve seen in a long time, and the market square was humming with business. There are more details on the Rotuaari website – if you’re in Oulu in time for next year’s carnival make sure you go along!

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