Recently I went to watch the annual winter races in Oulu. The races were not with horses or dogs or whatever else people race with but with reindeer. But of course. I am in Northern(ish) Finland.
It reminded me a bit of the running of the bulls in the South of France in Summer with a few important differences (beyond the obvious – bulls vs reindeer and summer vs winter):
– there is no sense of chaos or of things being out of control when watching the reindeer
– you don’t fear for your life when watching the reindeer
– you don’t wonder if you can pull yourself up on to a low hanging branch or windowsill when watching reindeer.
– you know that if the reindeer somehow breaks loose, they are probably just going to stand around and not rampage through the crowd or the shop (have you ever heard of the saying “like a reindeer in a china shop”? No? Well, that proves my point.)
– while the bulls are chased, the reindeer are ridden. Well, sort of. The “riders” wear skis and are connected to the reindeer with reins. The reindeer pull the riders along.
– the bulls are scared (for good reason, they are going to be caught and eaten) but the reindeer look like they are having fun.
Then, there was an inside market with all sorts of tradition Finish fair.
And outside market where people braaied sausages out in the snow in half teepees and wore lots of fur and bright tradition garb.