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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 2, 2009
Finland in Poland
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Finnish Christmas Bazaar
December 2, 2009   
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This year, on Dec. 12, the Finnish Christmas Bazaar becomes a teenager-it will celebrate its 13th anniversary.

Looking back in time and remembering the beginnings in the fall of 1997-the surprising "call to arms" that came from Kai Laitinen, at the time leading the Finnish Seamen's Mission Station in Gdańsk, and Tarja Nurmi from the Finnish embassy-it seems unbelievable that the bazaar has turned into a Warsaw tradition, an expected and much-liked event over these past years.

Our homemade traditional cakes, pastries, the Finnish sweets, mustard, hapankorppu rye crisp bread, not to mention the special pea stew, sponsored by the Finnish embassy and cooked by the embassy chef together with special Eero's recipe mulled wine glogi and the smoked fish stand, have their faithful following. Even our lightly roasted coffee has found its amateurs.

Our cause is to aid Merimieskirkko, the Finnish Seamen's Mission, a charitable ecumenical organization founded 134 years ago originally to help and care for Finnish seamen far from their homeland's shores. The mission is funded mainly by endowments and donations and once a year, on "Seasunday," the collection in Finnish churches is for its benefit. Volunteer activities like our bazaar are an important form of support and a source of funds as well-in each of the eight Finnish Seamen's Mission stations outside Finland. In London and Hamburg they are quite famous and last several days. Ours is a "mini" one compared with them, but who knows, maybe someday...

Here in Poland we do not have our own facilities, but from the very beginning within the friendly Evangelic-Augsburg (Lutheran) Parish on Puławska Street in Warsaw we have found our "home away from home." Our Finnish community has shrunk in size from what it was in 1997, but we have gained lots of friends and supporters thanks to our Pastor Ritva Szarek, who knows how to make everyone feel important and welcome, so when we meet, it is a truly multinational gathering.

Many Polish and Scandinavian companies, together with the Finnish firms active in Poland, give us their invaluable help and assistance. For example, a Polish transport company again this year brings the bazaar goods from Finland for us and The Warsaw Voice informs its readers, as it has done throughout the years, about the event.

You could say that our Finnish Christmas Bazaar has a nice, warm taste of international togetherness and-maybe especially at this time of the year-that's what it is all about in the end.
Pia Turunen-Rusinek
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