Santa Claus Land
on Midsummer Day, 1892

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rovaniemi is like a small city. It is home to all types of gentry, merchants and craftsmen, and if the more far-away village buildings are included, it makes a match for a small city also in terms of its population. The substantial size of commercial trade was also demon-strated by how both native and foreign travelling salesmen regularly extended their travels up here, selling large quantities and always the best-quality goods, as asserted by a certain travelling salesman. However, farming is no longer a very stable activity here, but livestock rearing, fishing, hunting and the retail trade provide much security. Moreover, when profit began to be made from the forests, money was also abundant. From here, there were regular visits to Finnmarken to do business and fishing, and it was also possible to earn money dur-ing these trips. In going to Finnmarken in spring, one would take along butter in particular. Indeed, Swedish currency was universally valid alongside the native currency in Rovaniemi. The public determined the prices in crowns and in ”posts” – 25 öres equalled a ”post” – and in öres. The conversion calculation from one currency to another was accomplished with surprising speed. In shops, one would often receive Swedish money in exchange for Finnish money, but based on my observations it was rare that the opposite would happen.

As a result, the highly mobile public, involved in many activities, do not remain slow and sleepy, as I had originally thought they were. Full of activity, they keep track of everything that holds promise for new sources of income. Consequently, everybody here already knew that iron ore had been found in Salla last year, and my comrade – who was also known to have arrived to study that ore – received several thorough enquiries about the quality and ex-tent of the discoveries. The inhabitants of Rovaniemi bore the particular hope that, as a re-sult of this discovery, their most treasured wish would finally come true: that a railway would be built in Rovaniemi. They asserted its necessity to anyone who would engage in conversation with them.

Amidst the beauty of the nature that had come to life, the attention of the traveller from the south would still focus on a certain monument that winter had erected as a reminder of itself in every household, in every room. I mean the great fireplaces and twin-tiled stoves that took over a third of the room. They were like true fortresses of warmth. The summer is short and bright, but the winter is longer, darker and harsher. The resistance of the wall is then tested by frost, the son of gale, and the dweller must feed his fortress diligently, if he is to repel its attacks.

With feelings of yearning, we departed from Rovaniemi on the evening of Midsummer Day, to continue our journey along the country road to Kemijärvi church. The ferry was not at the marina, it was in the middle of the river, heading towards the other side, and we had to wait for an hour’s time before it returned, rowed swiftly by competing boys and girls. The ferry trip was more than a couple of kilometres long, along the joined backwaters of Kemijoki and Ounasjoki.

(From the book: Rovaniemen kuvauksia [Descriptions of Rovaniemi], p. 77).



 

luettelomerkki

Land of the Arctic Circle
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Mountain of the
Midnight Sun

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Finland’s Klondike
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From sleigh rides to the
age of the Concorde

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The nearest real hotel
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Santa Claus Land
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A city called by many
names - and the heroes
take the spoils

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