Trolling in Finnish: how the Moomins became a national treasure
August 9, 1914 Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins, was born. Today, the lifestyle of these fictional characters seems ideal to Finns
Spending your free time with your family and being always ready for a fight, looking for adventures in the summer and hibernating when the winter comes, eating pancakes with coffee and loving loneliness – in general, leading a Moomin life … Ideal in the view of the Finns.
At the Moomin Museum in Tampere, it always seems that you are being watched. White ears flicker in the cardboard forest, someone invisible stomps on the stairs, and dozens of yellow eyes light up in dark corners. It was decided to make the official home of the most popular heroes of Finnish literature interactive.
— We thought that fleeing Moomin trolls or the Wizard’s hat would be popular among children, — says museum teacher Minna Honkasalo, —but, When the museum opened, we were surprised to see that adults are more likely to play with Moomin exhibits. Everything is touched and pressed. Yes, Finns are big kids. We do not grow up, and when we grow old we fall even more into childhood.
In search of a Moomin home
In 1930, fifteen-year-old Tove Jansson argued with her brother: he explained to her the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and in response she painted on the wall of the country toilet the most disgusting creature that she could think of – thin, with a long nose and evil eyes. The girl called him Moomintroll. It became white and fluffy only ten years later.
With the outbreak of World War II, Tove Jansson came up with a world in which you can escape from the harsh reality. Moomin-mother and Moomin-papa Tove wrote off from her parents – an artist and a sculptor, and her friends became the guests of the Moomin-house. This world was not a children's fairy-tale kingdom. In the first edition of the Moomintroll and the End of the World comic, there was even a postscript: “Attention: this material is NOT intended for young readers!”
“Jansson said that each of us yearns for such a world deep down,” says Minna Honkasalo. “This is such an ideal Finnish reality without politics, traffic jams and the need to make money. What the Finns themselves did not immediately understand. Tuva wrote the first books about Moomins in Swedish: she grew up in a family of Finnish Swedes.
Minna leads me through the fabulous halls of the museum, past plush stone chairs, a beaded comet chandelier, and gigantic human-sized books. Huge models of scenes from the Moomin world are presented in the twilight. Every summer, the writer and her artist friend Tuulikki Pietilä spent three months on the uninhabited island of Klovaharun, where they collected one such model for the museum. The star of the collection was a two-meter Moomin house. If you look into its windows, you can see what pickles are stored in Moominmamma's cellar and what paper boats Moomin makes in his room. The museum calls this house a symbol of Finnish comfort.
But the Finns for a long time could not see themselves in white creatures that looked like plush hippos. Only when the Moomin boom began in the UK, Tove Jansson's books were translated into Finnish.
– It's such a national trait, – Minna laughs, -not to notice what is under your nose, but to adore it what is fashionable abroad. This is what makes us different from the Moomins.
“We are having a bachelorette party,” Anniki Mäkinen, one of the participants in the “strength test,” explained to me. “In Finland, before the wedding, it is customary to dress the bride in a stupid costume. We decided that we would be butter churns, and the bride would be a cow. By the way, here she is.
A happy “cow” with a safety harness clinging to a rubber udder has climbed onto the platform along a spiral staircase.
— Risky descent —also a tradition? — I ask her.
— No, this is to show sisu, overcome yourself. Well, it’s not like going to a bar on such a significant day.
The word sisu does not have an exact translation into Russian. But the Finns say that sisu is the ability to make bread from stone. This is the basis of the national character: the ability to stand up for oneself, courage, determination and vitality, necessary for business, sports, and in general for daily achievement.
— In the harsh climate of our country without sisu we simply wouldn’t have survived,” says Sani Kontula-Webb, director of the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg. “Moomin trolls also have this trait. The characters in Tove Jansson's stories are very different, but if you identify their typical features, they will be resourcefulness, practicality, courage, readiness to fight.
However, it is impossible to live in constant mobilization. In moments of relaxation, the citizens of harsh Finland allow themselves to kalsarikännit, which literally translates as “to get drunk in underwear” – it means to devote time to yourself and loved ones. In Tove Jansson's books, the alternation of sisu and kalsarikännit occurs in perfect proportion: the Moomins are always ready for adventure, but spend their free time with their beloved family.
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The Invisible Child
In a small cafe Puustifragrant pastries and hot tea are served. The next table is occupied by a family of four: dad, mom and two little sons. Everyone eats in silence, sometimes looking out the window. When the youngest one drops his pie on the floor and starts crying, no one reacts to tears: they just buy him a new pie. In complete silence.
– Did they quarrel? – I ask the elderly lady at the cash register.
– Well, what are you, this is an ordinary family dinner, – the woman shrugs in surprise . – Here everyone is together and everyone is busy with himself. We Finns know how to enjoy life alone. And we don't want to disturb the loneliness of others. The highest degree of trust in Finnish is to understand in time when a loved one should be left alone.
Anneli Järvenen works as an elementary school teacher on weekdays, and on weekends in a family cafe. Anneli is sure that children learn the values of the Finnish family from national literature.
— Stories about Moomintrolls are very different from the world classics. In many children's books, parents are secondary characters: they either stand aside, or get lost, or they simply do not exist. These books teach children to choose their own path. In Tove Jansson's stories, Moominpapa and Moominmama are the same main characters as Moomin himself. They always support each other, take care of their friends and do not blame anyone. Everyone is equal here: everyone makes mistakes and everyone saves the world.
< p>In Moomindol, everyone is accepted for who they are, so the story of the Moomins is often used by psychologists when working with difficult children. When Moomintroll discovered his ancient but very unfriendly ancestor behind the stove, he simply helped him to get comfortable and left him alone. Books by Tove Jansson are devoid of edification, they do not tell how to do the right thing, but they teach the little reader to enjoy life and not interfere with others.
Population density in Finland is one of the lowest in the world. Geographical features affected the character of people.
“In other countries they laugh at us,” Anneli smiles, “they post photos of our queues on the Internet, where people stand a meter apart. And we are just very polite introverts. Just like the Moomins. Like the heroes of Jansson, we are ready to endlessly “put new beds and expand the dining table” for guests, but only if we are not forced to communicate.
In Tuva's drawings, most Moomin residents do not have a mouth. The artist tried to say that one must believe in deeds, not words. They say that this is the secret of Finnish happiness.
Clean place: sauna
< p>In the World Happiness Report2018, based on surveys of residents of 156 countries, Finland was named the happiest country in the world. The Finns laugh: it's not easy to be happy where it's cold for nine months of the year. But the people found a way out: they fell in love with the harsh beauty of the northern nature and turned this love into a national character trait.
“If you want to get to know the Finns, go to the forest,” says student Tapio Mukonin, who came to Tampere for the holidays. “A typical pastime for us” is walking. Of course, sometimes in winter you want, like the Moomin trolls, to hibernate, but then you will miss the skates and skis. In the summer we go biking, picnicking and kayaking.
Finland is called the country of swamps and lakes. The Finns even joke that there is a lake for everyone here. At the same time, their country is also the greenest in Europe: the forest covers 75% of the territory. And although researchers of Tove Jansson's work continue to insist that Moomin Valley is a fictional place, nature, the change of seasons, and observations of the sea described in books suggest that fictional creatures live in Finland.
As if to confirm this, in 2005 a small bronze Moomintroll settled in Sorsapuisto Park. On the days of city holidays, he is at the center of events. In summer, marshmallows are fried on fire next to Moomintroll, and sausages on sticks are smoked in winter. On the day I saw the monument, there was a plate of pancakes freshly baked in a camping pan at the small bronze legs.
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Food in the books of Tove Jansson is given special attention. In Moominvale, any event: the return of Snufkin, the visit of the Wizard, the shortest night of the year – an occasion for a feast.
– “He who eats pancakes with jam cannot be so terribly dangerous,” – the waiter of the museum restaurant Ilmari Sibelius quotes Moominmama to me. – We adhere to this rule: we offer pancakes to all guests. We also have a special Moomin menu based on Moomin's secret recipes. I think Moominmamma herself would be proud of us.
The harsh northern nature does not indulge in delicacies. Finnish traditional dishes are based on seafood and forest products. Every Finnish housewife knows how to cook fish, make jam and bake a rhubarb pie.
“The main rule is to take all the most delicious and mix well,” says Ilmari and pours lohikeitto, a milky fish soup, into my plate. “Usually in our families, children are taught to cook by their grandmothers. For those who do not have a grandmother, the Moomin Cookbook: An Introduction to Finnish Cuisine has recently been released. It has already been translated into five languages.
But the real passion of the Finns is coffee. According to research by Statista in 2017, Finns rank first in coffee consumption among residents of Europe and North America, this is 10.35 kilograms per person per year.
The philosophy of coffee is well described in the works of Tove Jansson. Even during a flood, her heroes manage to make coffee. The daily ritual & nbsp; is a symbol of the stability of life. And also a reason to meet friends or remember those who have not been written to for a long time.
See also , which has an explanation
Moomintroll and others
If you throw a postcard in the mailbox at the Moomin Museum in Tampere, then when sending it, they will put a special stamp on it with Moomintroll, which was also once painted by Tove Jansson herself. Even the stamps and postcards sold in the local gift shop are her illustrations.
– Do not hesitate, – the seller convinces me, – all Moomin images -the trolls you meet in Finland were drawn either by Tove or her brother Lars. We are very proud that we managed to keep the Moomins the way we knew them as children.
During the life of the artist, the Moomins became a brand. Stories about the hippo-like creatures from the forest have been translated into more than 40 languages (including Thai and Persian), the number of readers in the world has exceeded 20 million per day. In the 1950s, at the Jansson family council, it was decided that with such a hype, the Moomins needed protection. This is how the family company Moomin Characters Ltd was born. From that moment on, any depiction or mention of the Moomins without permission became illegal. Each of Tove Jansson's heroes has become a separately registered trademark.
— They must remain within the original stories and illustrations, — explains Kira Schroeder , producer Moomin Characters Ltd. – Today we have contracts for more than 600 licensed products, 60% of them belong to Asian companies. We are also very proud of Finnish products, from Finlayson sheets to Iittala Group mugs. Moomin business brings as much taxes to the country's budget as Nokia deducts (in 2018 — Note by Vokrugsveta.ru).
The company has developed a whole set of rules about what the Moomin trolls cannot do. They do not play computer games, do not use smartphones, and should not be associated with politics, violence and sex. But, like real Finns, they drink, smoke and use foul language – you can’t erase words from Jansson’s stories.
Moomin trolls are ideal in their imperfection and have special worldly wisdom. Therefore, anyone who wants to understand the Finnish character must get to know the whole Moomin world with its family values, love of loneliness, long walks, overcoming oneself and accepting others. As Moomintroll said: “People who keep the house warm and their stomachs full should be revered as heroes.”
LOCATION ORIENTATION Finland
Area 338,455 km² (64th place in world) Population 5,615,000 people (114th place) Population density 16 people/km²
SIGHTSMoomin Museum in Tampere, Moominpark in Naantali, Moomincafe in Kuopio. TRADITIONAL DISHES calakukko – fish pie with bacon, gravavilohi – marinated raw fish, rosolli – salad with beets. TRADITIONAL DRINKS berry juice, coffee with milk, sieve—Finnish mead. SOUVENIRS postcards with photos of Tove Jansson, Moomin clock troll, mug with illustration by Lars Jansson.
DISTANCE from Moscow to Helsinki ~ 900 km (1 hour 40 minutes flight time) TIME matches with Moscow summer, one hour behind in winter VISA Schengen CURRENCY euro