#91 huhtikuu – ‘slash and burn month’

April 1st. Time to introduce the next Finnish month name to you.
April for us is HUHTIKUU.
huhti (derivative of ‘huhta’) = a forest area cleared for agriculture
kuu = month (or actually ‘moon’, since a month would be ‘kuukausi’)

During this month, in the old days, farmers used to clear large areas of pine forest by cutting the trees and burning them for new land to grow rye, our staple grain for, among other things, special Finnish dark bread. Apparently, the ashes from the burnt trees prepared the soil well for successful crops. After all the nutrients from the burnt area had been depleted, the field was left, and birch trees often found it a fertile land to root themselves in afterwards. This old agricultural practice has shaped the Finnish forest landscape quite a bit but luckily it’s long since finished here because of its destructive effect on the environment.

I had to drive some distance to the countryside to find some felled pines today. I finally found them next to the farmhouse behind the trees in the distance, surrounded by large fields, still covered with snow. I don’t know why these trees were cut down but certainly not to get new fields.

2 Responses to “#91 huhtikuu – ‘slash and burn month’”

  1. April 1, 2010 at 23:34

    Thankyou for taking the time to drive out and find the right photo. I look forward to your Finnish months posts, Sinikka. I’m thinking I might collate them at the end and use them somehow in the classroom.

  2. April 2, 2010 at 08:25

    Thank you Tania, so nice to hear that this is of interest to you. I’m actually learning a lot about the history of my country while doing these month name posts.

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