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The Changing Seasons Of Finland

Apr 11, 2008
Spring, from March to May, is short and exceptionally sweet after the long winter. There is a tangible sense of exhilaration as the snow melts. In the south, this can happen as early as March, while in the north as late as May. Forests burst with fresh foliage and become carpeted with wild flowers. Even though the lakes and coastal waters are still chilly, the bravest bathers take their first dip.

The arrival of spring is celebrated enthusiastically across the country on May 1st, or Vappu. The traditional drink for this special day is sima, a type of mead. You should also try a delicious sweet pastry called tippaleip that looks a little like brown frozen spaghetti.

Summer

Summer, from June to August, is when Finland is at its spellbinding best. The long sunny days and light nights combined with thousands of unspoilt lakes and endless forests make it a huge playground for residents and visitors alike. The towns and cities remain bustling, even though many Finns head to their lake or seaside summer cottages. After Midsummer, celebrated the weekend closest to the summer solstice, temperatures often reach into the high twenties and even touch the thirties.

In the north, the sun does not set for several weeks. Once the sun comes out, so does the grill. Summer means being outdoors, grilling and smoking food and picking herbs from the garden. With the sauna in constant use, the famous Finnish bologna sausage and beer are consumed more than any other time of the year. The aroma of flamed salmon, a much loved Finnish fish, fi lls the air of outdoor markets, while other stalls are laden with peas, strawberries, blueberries, cloudberries, cucumber, and tomatoes. Fresh vegetables cooked in milk, another Finnish speciality, make a delicious summery soup. For most Finns, the gastronomic highlight of the summer starts on 21st July with the crayfi sh season.

These lake crustaceans are normally eaten at parties with lots of vodka and even more singing. In August the sea yields Baltic herring and flounder, and hunters go out for duck. It is also the season to wander in the woods and fill baskets with forest mushrooms, including milk caps, horns of plenty, boletus, and different varieties of chanterelle.

Autumn

Autumn, from September to November, is a time for winding down after the summer. It begins with a short-lived blaze of colour known in Finnish as ruska. The trees autumnal reds, browns, and yellows are especially beautiful in Lapland where people head to trek through breathtaking September scenery. The autumn colours set the forests aglow and the wetlands are red with lingon berries and cranberries, while moose hunting parties get together for the hunt. When October comes, vendace, white fish and Baltic herring provide roe for the gourmet tables.

The hearty dish of sautted reindeer is a firm favourite that can be eaten all year round. Red Finnish caviar is considered amongst the best in the world. In seaside towns, fish markets sell pickled, salted fish and fresh fish, while potatoes are at their very best.
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