Monday, December 29, 2008

Spending Holidays

Now the Christmas holidays are over and we are waiting for the New Year. Here is the picture of our tree

My sister picked it up from a farmer she knows. Here we actually grow trees to be used at Christmas time. Firs are very common here also in the nature.

We have made an agreement with the family that we don't really exchange gifts. Just something small and this year my gifts were related to Piitu. My daughter had found an artist (Marianne Kokko) who created paintings of dogs from photographs and here she is:

My sister's son has a girl friend who attended Rudolf Steiner school (also known as Waldorf education) like my children and she had made a woollen image of Piitu. It is created with a special kind of felt making using needles. It is not a very known skill nowadays.

I have eaten tons of chocolate and played games with the children. Katri got a game named Toledo for Christmas and I got a Rummikub game from Israel last summer and we have not played it so far. Now we just have to settle an argument about the rules before we can play it again.

I have lots of work planned for the remaining holiday. I should decide which program I am going to teach my students to use in photoshopping. I should also clean my computer folders which are not organized even though I bought the new laptop a year ago. I also should do something to this blog; not to mention my own website which is not even started yet...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Yule

This time of year is important but hard to come up with a suitable wish to all the people over the world. I think before "Seasons Greetings" were very common; now "Happy Holidays" seems to be the correct expression.

Usually I prefer our own "Hyvää Joulua!" and the reason is historic:

Yule or Yule-tide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas.The term "Yule" is still used in the Nordic Countries to refer to Christmas. In modern times, Yule is observed as a cultural festival.

Originally the name Giuli signified a 60 day tide beginning at the lunar midwinter of the late Scandinavian Norse and Germanic tribes. The arrival of Juletid thus came to refer to the midwinter celebrations. By the late Viking Age, the Yule celebrations came to specify a great solstitial Midwinter festival that amalgamated the traditions of various midwinter celebrations across Europe, like the solstice celebration. A documented example of this is in 960, when King Håkon of Norway signed into law that Jul was to be celebrated on the night leading into December 25, to align it with the Christian celebrations.

RennyBA has an excellent explanation about this in his blog from the Norwegian point of view.

The explanation of the Finnish tradition in Wikipedia is short and accurate:

On the eve of the Finnish Joulu, children are visited by Joulupukki, a character similar to Santa Claus. The word Joulupukki means "Yule Goat" and probably derives from an old Finnish tradition where people called nuuttipukkis dressed in goat hides circulated in homes after Joulu, eating leftover food. Joulupukki visits people's homes and rides a sleigh pulled by a number of reindeer. He knocks on the front door during Jouluaatto, rather than sneaking in through the chimney at night. When he comes in, his first words are usually "Onkos täällä kilttejä lapsia?",
"Are there (any) good (well-behaved) children here?". Presents are given and opened immediately. He usually wears red, warm clothes and often carries a wooden walking stick. His workshop is in Korvatunturi, Lapland, Finland, rather than at the North Pole like Santa Claus, or in Greenland. He is married to Joulumuori (tr. Mother Yule). Typical Finnish yule dishes include ham, various root vegetable casseroles, beetroot salad, gingerbread and star-shaped plum-filled pastries. Other traditions with a non-Christian yule background include joulukuusi ("Yule spruce") and joulusauna ("yule sauna").

So today is the most important day in Finland. Santa left yesterday and you can even follow the live broadcast at the link on his site. However it does not support Firefox and I am not going to use IE because of that :)

It is early in the morning and others are asleep. I will soon start to make our traditional Rice Porrige, which takes about an hour to get ready.

I think the picture has an excessive amount of butter in it...

I wish merry Yule to everyone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mouse Agility

I did not even know mice could be this smart. A long track and he does it on his own!

More about this activity in

Dot-A-Pix Example

I will use this as an excercise for my students today. Hopefully I will get enough students for my computer course about image handling and slide shows ;)

If you want to solve this:
The colour of the line is always the colour of the starting point.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Tree Sudoku

The most popular Christmas tradition wears a new shape this year as Conceptis uncovers a 15-grid Multi Sudoku puzzle with the outline of a Christmas tree.

Unfortunately the poster is not available in Finland but at least I can play the puzzle in Conceptis website. Maybe I should try to e-mail to the publisher in Denmark. They have sent me a couple of Tazuki magazines before.

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