LIFE BY THE RIVER:
Observations on nature
The hidden knowledge of Käymäjärvi
The expedition made preparations for their measurements along the river
in the town of Tornio to find the best possible measuring points on
both sides of the river. The preparations were ready shortly before
Midsummer but the party did not set out straight away.
Thursday, the fifth, was the feast of St.John, which they
keep eleven days later than us, according to the old stile : it was
a grand solemnity, and we could not depart that day, notwithstanding
every thing was ready.
(Outhier, Journal of a Voyage to the North, p. 277)
In summer services were held every Sunday. Friday the 14th of
September was one of the four annual intercession days. The services
lasted from early morning till late afternoon and people were punished
for unauthorised absence.
Friday, the fourteenth, was one of those grand prayer-days, of which
the King of Sweden obliges the inhabitants to keep four in the year
: on them they do no manner of work : they are obliged to send one from
every family to church, though it should be thirty miles distant, that
is to say, sixty leagues. Five families, however, in the village of
Pello are exempted, for fear of accidents happening from fire, or any
other cause ; and each inhabitant in his turn succeeds to the exemption,
At church the names of those who attend are registered, and there are
penalties for such families as are absent without satisfactory reason
: on these days they remain very long at church. At Ofwer Torneo there
were two successive sermons, and the people were in church from nine
or ten in the morning until three in the afternoon.
(Outhier, Journal of a Voyage to the North, p. 297)
On All Saints' Day, Monday the 12th of November two services were held
in the morning and one in the evening in the Tornio town church. The
French wondered the way the Tornio people ran their business and paid
social calls despite the extreme cold during the days prior to Christmas.
At Christmas a good part of the day was spent in the church and the
rest of the day in reading and singing hymns at home.
The 8th of January 1737 was the Holy Innocents' Day and the French party
was invited to a dinner at lieutenant-colonel Du Rietz's. The party
watched from the window.
We saw one hundred Finns come out of church at noon, who were returning
their houses, some in town, some in the country higher up the river.
This succession of so large a number of sledges formed a singular spectacle,
and at Hapa Niemi we were most advantageously placed to seeing it.
(Outhier, Journal of a Voyage to the North, p. 314)
The New Year's Day, one of the great festivals, was according to the
French calendar celebrated on the 12th of January. In the beginning
of January also the big fair of Jukkasjärvi was arranged where
also people from Tornio used to travel.
At Easter the church services were many. There was no fasting as was
the habit in the Catholic countries, but people practised some forms
of abstinence at one's own discretion.
Thursday, the eighteenth, in the holy week, the inhabitants went to
church ; there was a sermon, but no communion. On Friday, the nineteenth,
they went more generally : they gave a sermon with communion ; many
received the Lord's Supper. In the afternoon, a second discourse was
given, and the priest sang something from the pulpit. They do not fast
commonly, even on Good Friday ; they however practice some mortifications,
as they think proper : some more devout than the rest are nothing during
the whole of Friday. Saturday, the twentieth, and Easter Sunday, the
twentyfirst. Very fine and mild weather, the snow melted in the sun.
Easter Day, the rector and the ministers did not administer the communion
: people, however, went to church, and a sermon was given morning and
(Outhier, Journal of a Voyage to the North, p. 319)
The first of the four annual intercession days fell on Friday, the
3rd of May. The weather was very warm. ' The inhabitants of the area
went to church three times, at five in the morning for the first time,
and spent almost the whole day there''.
At the shift of April - May a parish catechetical meeting was arranged,
an examination meeting on the knowledge of the Catechism. The meeting
took three days , and without distinction both the old and the young
were examined on their familiarity with the Catechism. On Thursday and
Saturday the meeting was held for the Finnish-speaking farm hands and
maids, on Friday the meeting was for the Swedish-speaking burghers,
who all were punctual in their arrival.
During the May intercession days, called bordering days, a good harvest
was prayed for. The three days in question lasted from the Intercession
Sunday to the Ascension Day.
They kept Easter the same day as we did, and Rogation Sunday as well.
Monday, twenty-seventh, and Tuesday, the twenty-eighth, people went
much to church : that day they preached on the gospel which we have
for the Rogation mass. They call these days Gonge dagen, the days of
prosession ; they however have no prosession, and are satisfied with
preaching and signing the hymns of the church.
(Outhier, Journal of a Voyage to the North, p. 321)