Main Piece: Finnish Tradition
Told to me by my high school friend Mika, about his Finnish grandmother:
“On Christmas before dinner Mummi(his grandmother) would sneak off into the forests near their house with her brothers and sisters to go pick wild boysenberries, and explore in the forest.
After picking berries and bringing them back to the house, her brothers and sisters would go into the sauna, then after a short while after getting hot in the sauna they would run out and jump into either the snow or into a freezing cold lake.”
My friend Mika told me this story after I had first met his grandmother Mummi, and she had a very heavy accent so I asked where she was from. He told me that her and her husband were born and raised in Finland, so he went on to tell me some stories that she had passed down to him.
He particularly likes this story because he grew up in southern California where his house was surrounded by other houses, and the weather rarely dropped below 65. We have been friends since elementary school, and in the winter we used to go in his sauna when it was freezing cold out and after we got too hot we would run out and jump into his freezing (most likely 60 degree) pool, and cool off. I never really thought anything of this, just thinking it was something we did when we were bored and hanging out. But Mika did this because of what his grandmother had told him about when she was a kid.
Mika was first told this story during one of his family gatherings at Christmas time. Mummi told this story when they were all sitting down at dinner as a way to pass on her heritage to her grandchildren. That was another tradition that Mika told me had been in his family for many years, where they would have Christmas dinner with extended family, having grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins all for a large feast.
There isn’t much other context this sort of tradition would be passed on in, other than if you were in Finland and were attending their family Christmas. This may not necessarily a country wide tradition, but it is something unique to their family given where Mika’s grandmother was raised.
I think this a pretty interesting tradition as it is very specific to the location and climate where Mummi grew up. It seems like something only the children would really do, as getting your body hot then jumping into something freezing cold to cool you off seems like a bad idea. My family has a Christmas tradition of watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every Christmas eve, and I like to think this is a lot like that .