It’s Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or, as we say here, Laskiaistiistai. We are, as the word (laskea=to descend) indicates, descending.
But into what? In the JHJ household it looks like we will be descending into gluttony. Of course, that’s what it was all about when the gras in Mardi Gras still meant greasy. Because Lent is what it’s about, descending into the Christian period of fasting in the run-up to Easter. And of course, one prepares for a fast (as for a diet) by over indulging.
Pea soup, yumm, yumm, washed down with pulla swollen in hot milk with almond paste (NEVER jam, au naturel or almond paste it must be). Scrumptious!!
New Orleans, Rio, even Cologne have a pretty carnivalesque carnival, as you’d expect of Catholics. But in protestant Finland religion was never that showy. Instead, the timing has helped turn “descent” more into tobogganing.
On Sunday already families made a meal of it, with smaller kids wrapped into their sensible all-in-ones (or ovrealls, if you prefer). Admittedly a lot of them have been enjoying the snow every day for the last few weeks anyway. But today it’s the turn of the older kids to get into their all-in-ones. We are, of course, talking about Helsinki’s substantial population of students, self-styled whacky types. Dressed in colour-coded overalls shaerd by their faculty (complete with corporate sponsorship traces to give you some hint of what they’re studying) they like to drift in packs throughout the calendar year to mark this, that, or other thing that needs marking. Here a gaggle of tomorrow’s leaders crosses the square at Havis Amanda, properly equipped, one assumes – hopes, and creatively maintaining that all-important social glue: tradition.