#353 joulukuu – ‘christmas month’

353/365 joulukuu – ‘christmas month’, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

December 19, twelfth, and last, lesson of Finnish month names.

December for us is JOULUKUU.
joulu = Christmas
kuu = month (actually ‘moon’, since a month would be ‘kuukausi’, literally ‘moon period’)

Another nice and easy name that doesn’t really need further explanations. It took me quite some time, though, to think of which picture to use to illustrate this month. I wanted a picture of a traditional, Finnish Christmas decoration, and in the end, chose this straw billygoat, decorated with red ribbons. These are common in other Scandinavian countries, too. The use of straw derives from old harvest festivals, and is very common for many different Christmas decorations (see this one, too) As for the billygoat, it is part of an ancient, pagan tradition. In those days, after Christmas, a troop of dressed-up people used to go round, giving performances in people’s homes, in exchange for food and drink. One of the members was dressed as a scary-looking billygoat. Later, in Christian times, the billygoat character still went round in January, and it was commonly believed that he came to chase Christmas away. These days, the tradition still lives on in these decorations, and in the Finnish language – Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, in Finnish is ‘joulupukki’, meaning Christmas billygoat!

Apart from getting all the family Christmas decorations out, we also light candles everywhere, and every day in December. It is the darkest time of the year, and with the candles, we seem to live in a reddish twilight most of the time.

What’s more, this picture nicely suits today’s Daily Shoot as well:

Illustrate one of the meanings of the the word warmth today in a photograph.

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December 2010

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