Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent which is 40 days of fasting before the chocolate feasting that is Easter. Being an evangelical protestant charismatic Christian, I’ve never really celebrated Shrove Tuesday or any religious festivals other than Easter and Christmas. Every so often I have an English friend at that time of year and they convince me that pancakes must be made on this auspicious day (because in England, they make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday). I’m not someone who needs much convincing when it comes to baked or fried sweet treats, so it’s an easy sell.
The big idea behind Shrove Tuesday is that you are meant to eat and do all the things you aren’t meant to eat and do during Lent. In other countries, Shrove Tuesday is known as Mardi Gras, so maybe that puts this day more in context for you.
So, “Laskiainen” (pronounced luss-ki-a-i-nen) is the Finnish Shrove Tuesday. There are three main parts to it… a sledding competition, eating a cream filled pulla and a big party in the night. Obviously I did all three.
Oulu is flat. There are not many hills to sled down. But, there is ONE, on the far oooooooooooooother side of town. So we all wrapped up warm and traipsed out there. The even is organised by the mechanical engineers of the university. They seem to organise quite a bit of stuff and may be the cool group??? But I’m not too sure about that. Anyhoo, they marked off the hill and crowds gathered around. In Finland you don’t have a university hoodie, you have a university overall that you cover with badges that you get from events. Each faculty has their own colour for their overall (MechEng is Red, Education is Black, Architecture is White etc etc) At all the fun events you wear your overall. It’s not very flattering for women but at least it keeps your clothes clean and you relatively warm. It’s also just funny to see all these people walking around in colourful overalls.
The sledding competition consists of two types of races. The first type was a speed competition. Teams of three have to slide down the snowy hill on the sled, reach the bottom of the hill, run around a drum barrel and then run UP the hill with carrying their sled. The first team back up the hill are the winners. It’s a knock out competition so if you win your race, you get to race again against another team. If you lose, you are out… sorrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeee.
The next set of races are judged on original design rather than how fast or far they go. There were some quite elaborate designs and some quite epic fails as the noble crafts hit the bottom of the slope and smashed themselves to smithereens (did I mention there are people inside? No? Ok, there are people inside these sleds so when they crash the people inside go flying in all directions).
Here’s a video of the competition. You can actually see me in the video (woop woop!) When they get to the bottom, where the red drum is, if you look at the crowd at that moment, you can see my smurfy blue down jacket and that’s me, in the smurfy blue down jacket.
There was also some sweet pea soup which was actually quite delicious and nice and warm when you are standing outside for hours.
The races were run and it was time for pulla with so much cream I felt like I should probably go on Lent just to justify eating it.That said, it was very delicious and well worth all the hoo ha surrounding them.
And then that night we danced the night away to two live bands in a club and much fun was had by all.