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Enjoy a Finnish Christmas experience

Hopefully, by the time December gets here, winter will be back to normal, turning our Northland into a beautiful, white winter wonderland with the spirit of Christmas making everyone excited and jolly and waiting for Santa!

Speaking of Santa ... I'm sure most Finns (and others) have heard that Santa Claus declared his hometown to be at Korvatunturi (Ear Mountain) in the magical Arctic Circle of Lapland, Finland. To keep his location a secret, however, the elves built a place where Santa could meet people from all over the world. Thus, Santa spends every day of the year at Santa Claus Village near Rovaniemi, Finland, to take care of his mission in life: "to enhance the well-being of children and the kindness of adults, and to spread the message of love and the goodwill of the Christmas Spirit throughout the world."

While most of us cannot go to see Santa at Santa Claus Village, we can enjoy visiting with him through this website:  http://www.santaclausvillage.info/. If you click on "Videos," you will find lots of unique video experiences for you to enjoy, including: visit Santa Claus Village, see Santa's Village from the point of view of flying reindeer, take a reindeer ride, discover the secrets of the reindeer, play with Santa's husky dogs, learn some Finnish Christmas words, listen to letters written to Santa, go sledding with Santa, meet Santa in a unique interview, see Santa visiting and playing with children, and other fun Santa experiences. Enjoy and use these videos to bring the spirit of Christmas into your home and to delight children, grandchildren, and "kids" of all ages!

December also means that some of the local Finnish groups will have Christmas celebrations or possibly take a Christmas or winter sabbatical. To find out what your local Finnish group has planned, you will need to contact one of their members. However, if you are looking for a Finnish Christmas experience, here are a few of the December events that are open to the public.

The Finnish Americans and Friends (FAF) will host their annual Christmas Pikkujoulu party Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Crown Ballroom, 214 E. Howard St., Hibbing. A social hour begins at 4:30 p.m. with dinner at 5 p.m. Following dinner, David Kess and Sally Koski will present the Christmas Peace. Then, Finnish Independence Day will be noted with a short video and the singing of "Finlandia." The party will conclude with Christmas music by the vocal group, "Full of Fun." Reservations can be made with Mary Ann at 218-262-1260 on or before Dec. 1. For more information, contact Ken at fklahti@gmail.com.

Have you gotten your ticket yet for Duluth's celebration of Pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) and Itsenäisyyyspäivä (Finnish Independence Day)? This wonderful annual celebration, sponsored by the Arrowhead Chapter of the Minnesota Finnish American Historical Society (MFAHS) will be held Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Holiday Inn Great Lakes Ballroom, 200 W. First St. in Duluth. The doors will open at noon and the celebration will start at 12:45 p.m. A delicious Finnish buffet dinner will be followed by an entertaining program featuring Eli Bissonett and the Järvenpää Singers. If you would like to purchase tickets, you should immediately contact Elaine (218-525-4435) or Arlene (tuck5080@yahoo.com) to get some. Ticket prices are $18 for adults and $10 children under age 10. And don't forget … You can purchase Finnish gifts and treats from a local vendor, and the parking is free in the Holiday Inn parking lot. Come and celebrate Finland's 99th anniversary of independence as well as the start of the Christmas season!

The Sami Cultural Center (SCC) of North America, 4915 E. Superior St., Ste 205 in Duluth, invites you to their annual Holiday Open House from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6. This will be a great time to enjoy good food and fellowship as well as to see the artwork done by our North American Sami community for the international art project, Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity.

Funded by Luciano Benetton and sponsored by Italy's Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, the Imago Mundi is an exciting world-wide art project that is collecting art from every country and peoples of the world and making this art accessible to everyone. Each art work will be displayed on the Imago Mundi web site (http://www.imagomundiart.com) and in the printed catalog. The Sami people, including the North American Sami, are being featured in the project, and SCC Chair and visual artist Marlene Wisuri has been asked to be the guest curator of 30 pieces of art from the North American Sami community. SCC is honored to be included in this amazing collection of wonderful art and will host an exhibit of the collected pieces from around the U.S. and Canada at their annual Holiday Open House before the work is shipped to Italy.

Also, as a follow-up on SCC's T-shirts on Line exhibit in June, the very nice T-shirt design by Jake Trost of Two Harbors was voted the "Peoples’ Choice." Jake's T-shirt has a watercolor look with "Sami Spirit" written across the Northern Lights sky which illuminates a Sami home scene. You can buy an adult or child T-shirt, or an organic tote bag, with Jake's design or another SCC design, at Big Frog T-Shirts, 5115 Burning Tree Road, Ste. 315B, Duluth (near Best Buy). Or you can order one online from https://shopbigfrogduluth.com/collections (go to pages 7 and 8 for the Sami T-shirts). It's a wonderful and beautiful way to honor your Finnish and/or Sami roots. Plus, these make nice presents, too! To top it off, all sales benefit the SCC!

Have a wonderful Christmas season! My wish for you is that in midst of the busy days of the holidays, you will find the peace, the hope, the magic and the blessings of Christmas.

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