Glögi: hot spiced wine in Finland

Jouluppuki (Santa Claus) is coming to town, and adults in Finland warm their bodies and hearts with Christmas markets, lights in the streets and some hot beverages. We will talk about one of these beverages today: the Glögi.

What is Glögi?

Glögi is one of the traditions of Finnish Christmas. It is an unknown beverage in Southern Europe (Hot wine? With spices? Nobody ever dared to think of it), but in Central and Northern Europe mulled wine is a classic winter beverage: each country has its own version of it.

Glögi is its Finnish name, and as the headline revealed it is made from hot red wine and different spices such as cinnamon, sugar and clove. The Scandinavian and Nordic versions sometimes add almonds and raisins, which give their version of the mulled wine a nice finish: when the beverage is gone, you can have a nice bite with the same flavor and a bit of nuttiness.

The German version, arguably the most well known, is called Glüwein and is served at all hours in the Christmas markets that flood the cities and are full all day. So, when I ordered some and asked them why the name wasn’t Glögi, they looked at me in a strange way and told me that no, it was just called Glüwein. That is how I had the idea for this post.

A pot of Glögi
A pot of hot Glögi with almonds. Source (CC: by)

The first time I tried Glögi

My first time with this beverage in Finland was in the house of a Finnish friend. He was preparing it in a big pot on the stove. The first time, I didn’t like it very much, as it was such an unusual taste for me; but in the end its taste grew on me.

That wasn’t the last time I drank Glögi, though. It is available in every Christmas market and every bar. If it is not too cold, many places have outside kiosks that sell it “to go” as well, so every year I get one or two cups to join the Christmas spirit. There is also a version that I favour, the one that has a bit of rum in it.

DIY: the recipe for making Glögi

I never learned how to do it, but the recipe – if you want to do it at home too – is this one:

1 bottle of red wine
2-3 tbsp Madeira wine (optional)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of raisins
1-2 cinnamon sticks
5-6 orange peels
1/4 cup of peeled almonds
1/4 cup of vodka or rum to add the extra kick (optional)

Heat it all up – don’t cook it though – and have a nice pot of Glögi. Let us know your tricks for it on the comments, and we can all try different variations this Christmas time.



The priests that holds Heavy Metal masses in Finland

Heavy Metal is one of Finland’s exports: it is said that they have more Heavy Metal bands per capita that any other nation in the world. It is no coincidence, then, that they also took the next step and created a Heavy Metal mass.

Finnish Metal

I am more inclined towards other kinds of music, and therefore my knowledge of Finnish Metal is limited. Nonetheless, I was in Finland when its Heavy Metal band formed by monsters won the Eurovision festival. It was Lordi.

Heavy metal in Helsinki
A band performing in Helsinki. Source (CC: by).

Since then, on the Spanish version of Big in Finland, we have a section about Finnish Music, in which we review Finnish albums thanks to our guest blogger J.A. Vidania. Today we start with our section on Finnish Music here with this blog-post.

The masses with Christian Heavy Metal in Helsinki

I first learned about this topic through this article on thisisFINLAND: a Finnish priest has been touring Finland and organizing Heavy Metal masses in different Finnish cities.

Since 2006 Haka Kekäläinen, a Lutheran priest, comes into the church with a six-member Heavy Metal band. The priest also looks pretty metal, sporting long dark hair and a goatee. In church, though, he leaves his leather jacket in the wardrobe and dons the traditional clothing for a priest.

In religious hymns that the Heavy Metal band plays the lyrics are not changed, but the rythm and music are and many people – also non-religious – drop by the church to witness this curious mass of Christian Heavy Metal. A curiosity: none of the members of the band are religious, but they put in the extra effort to make their performance a religious experience.

Heavy Metal masses in Finland
The priest and his altar boys and girls. You can see the Heavy Metal band in the background. Source (by-sa-nc).

The first mass of this kind was held in Helsinki, in the spectacular Temppeliaukio church (a church dug into a rock), which was completely full – some people even had to stand outside. Since that day where he guided the mass in front of 1.300 people, the priest and his Christian Heavy Metal band have held more than 95 masses throughout Finland and recorded an album. The album sold out its 8.000 copies.

What are the plans for the future for this peculiar priest? A weekly mass in Helsinki and the recording of a new album. There were almost no opposition voices in the Lutheran Church – I assume that was because Finland is a Metal lover – so his plans seem feasible. Will he perform in the iconic Chapel of Silence of Helsinki? Only time will tell, but it seems unlikely.

What do you think of this way to fill churches in Finland? Are you a Heavy Metal fan? If so, tell us your favorite band in the comments.



Most frequent Finnish words

It is widely known that the most important thing for learning a language is the method you use. A method that will take you the farthest in the minimum amount of time is learning the most frequent words of a language. To help with that for the Finnish language, here it comes: the list with the most frequent Finnish words.

This list was compiled by Finnish translator and teacher Ursula Ojanen. Amongst other things, she translated the Kalevala and many works of the Finnish author Arto Paasilinna into Spanish. She was also the main force behind the teaching of Finnish in Madrid, where she has taught the language since around the year 1980.

Without further delay…

The most frequently used words of the Finnish language

If you detect some mistakes (it could happen as the original was in Spanish), please let me know in the comments and I will quickly correct them.

1. ol/la: to be
2. ja: and
3. se: it
4. ei: no
5. joka: which
6. hän: he, she
7. että: that
8. tämä: this
9. mutta: but
10. saa/da: must, have to11. kun: when
12. niin: so
13. kuin: what
14. tul/la: come
15. minä: I
16. voi/da: can
17. kaikki: all
18. ne: they/them/those
19. me: we
20. myös: too

21. he: they
22. aika: time, enough
23. toinen: other, second
24. jo: already
25. nyt: now
26. vain: only
27. suuri: big
28. vuosi: year
29. pitä/ä: keep
30. teh/dä: to do

31. sitten: then
32. mikä: what
33. tai: or
34. muu: other
35. sano/a: to say
36. sinä: you
37. hyvä: good
38. anta/a: to give
39. asia: thing, affair
40. kuitenkin: however

41. vielä: yet
42. itse: (my, your…) self
43. uusi: new
44. ihminen: man (human being)
45. maa: country, land
46. oma: own, private
47. men/nä: to go
48. näh/dä: to see
49. mies: man (male)
50. jos: if (conditional)

51. päivä: day
52. nämä: these
53. moni: several, many
54. mitä: what
55. suomi/Suomi: Finnish/Finland
56. otta/a: to take
57. sekä: and (thus)
58. sillä: because
59. sama: same
60. vaikka: even though

61. kaksi: two
62. alka/a: to start
63. paljon: many
64. lähte/ä: to leave
65. tässä: here
66. lapsi: child
67. pieni: little
68. mieli: the mind
69. käy/dä: to go, to visit
70. tietä/ä: to know71. osa: part, part of
72. jää/dä: to stay, to remain
73. kerto/a: to count
74. eräs: one, a (article)
75. poika: boy, son
76. yksi: one
77. työ: work
78. käyttä/ä: to use
79. kuulu/a: to belong, to include
80. jokin: some, one of the

81. pääs/tä: to reach
82. käsi: hand
83. näin: thus, this way
84. hyvin: good, very
85. vanha: old
86. koko: size, the whole
87. jälkeen: after, after the
88. kanssa: with
89. aina: always
90. silloin: then

91. ensimmäinen: first
92. tapa: way
93. sana: word
94. vaan: but
95. tunte/a: to know, to feel
96. juuri: just
97. kirja: book
98. nuori: young
99. tie: way, road
100. katso/a: to look

101. mukaan: according to, by
102. suoritta/a: to perform
103. sellainen: such
104. tapahtu/a: to happen
105. maini/ta: to mention
106. eri: different
107. esittä/ä: to present
108. jumala: god
109. kysymys: question
110. ennen: before

111. koska: why
112. siis: therefore
113. siellä: there
114. saatta/a: to accompany
115. joutua: need to be
116. puoli: half
117. tarvi/ta: to need
118. kuva: image
119. elämä: life
120. tällainen: such

What is your favorite Finnish word in the list of the most common words? Is there one you know you use a lot but that is not in the list? Share it in the comments.



Helsinki Cathedral – the white jewel of Helsinki

If you were asked to close your eyes and to tell the first image that comes to mind about Helsinki, you’d probably say that it is the Helsinki Cathedral. At least this is what it happens to me (I also think about the stone giants at the main train station, though). It is the most recognizable spot of the city.

Helsinki Cathedral: the white cathedral

The Helsinki Cathedral

Since 1852, when the construction of the Helsinki Cathedral was over, this building has been imposing its beauty over the Senate Square of Helsinki, right in the middle of the city (map). Its facade can be seen in many photos and during all kinds of media coverage, because many events and protests take place in front of it.

The cathedral originally was build as a tribute to the Tzar Nicholas I of Russia, because for many years Finland was part of Russia and was known as the Great Duchy of Finland. The man to design such an iconic piece was Carl Ludvig Engel, who based its design on the St. Isaac Cathedral of Saint Petersburg, that you can see in this photo:

St Isaac Cathedral of Saint Petersburg
The Helsinki Cathedral was modeled after this one. I think it looks better in white.

Since it was a tribute to the Tsar, the Helsinki Cathedral was inaugurated with the name of Saint Nicholas Cathedral. This, of course, changed after Finland became independent and now it is known simply as Helsingin tuomiokirkko. The architect that succeeded Engel, named Lohrmann, added four little domes that make the cathedral look even more like the one in St. Petersburg.

The cathedral’s style is neoclassic and follows the architecture design of a Greek Cross (its four arms are identically long). The height of the Helsinki Cathedral is 62 meters (203 feet), it has an organ, and it hosts masses and weddings.

Columns of the Helsinki Cathedral

Stairs of the white Helsinki Catedral
Myself, stepping up the stairs.

The Cathedral of Helsinki

A while ago, while re-visiting some photos from Finland, I found some pictures of the Helsinki Cathedral from the inside. That is something not everyone gets to see, either for lack of time, lack of will to climb up the stairs, or for not being interested in the Lutheran faith.

That was the reason I remembered that there was no post about this Helsinki icon on Big in Finland yet. And since maybe not so many people might have seen it from the inside, I was encouraged to write this post.

The most interesting thing about the interior of the white Helsinki Cathedral is its almost complete lack of ornaments. Lutherans were opposed to the worshipping of saints, since they rejected the Catholic notion that saints and virgins were closer to God than others. This makes the Lutheran cathedrals in general more sober than their Catholic counterparts in places like Spain or Italy, that have much more decoration, ornaments and history.

The Helsinki Cathedral has an organ made in 1967 with 57 stops. It is quite beautiful and resembles the first organ installed in the cathedral, shortly after its construction. You can hear and see it in this video.

Altar of the Helsinki Cathedral
The cathedral’s altar is very sober.

The Helsinki Cathedral from the inside
Inside the White Cathedral.

In any case the Helsinki Cathedral is a must-see when you travel to Helsinki, and entering it costs nothing, so we can add it to our list of low-cost (or free) activities in Helsinki. Its opening hours are from 9h to 18h every day, and for the months of Summer in Finland, until 24h.

Do you also think about the Helsinki Cathedral as the iconic image of Helsinki? What do you think of first if not?




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