Dec 31, 2015

Happy New Year!


There's no Shepard without Vakarian.
                            

2015 was a pretty great year for me, writing-wise. I sold my first story and saw it in print, participated in an international writing class, and started this blog.

A part of me still can't believe it happened.

Here's hoping that 2016 will be equally awesome.

The drinks above are Mass Effect themed. The Shepard is cranberry juice, whiskey, and Red Bull with a persimmon slice, and The Vakarian is tequila, blue curaçao, and lime juice. Mix at your own risk. (These two are my own concoctions, but for more video-game inspired cocktail ideas check out www.thedrunkenmoogle.com.)

 Happy New Year!

P.S. SpeckLit accepted some more of my drabbles for publication. Super happy about that:) (One of last quarters' was up on the 26th, if you want to take a look.)

Dec 30, 2015

Writing Exercise: Crafting Metaphors

This week I'm skipping Etymology Expeditions in favour of trying this exercise from Rebecca McClanahan's Word Painting.

The idea is to take about thirty words, a nice mix of sensory adjectives, strong verbs, and abstractions, mix them up, and then draw three at random. Then you have to attempt to make up a metaphor using those words. This is supposed to help your mind make unexpected connections during your writing.

Here's my list:

tangy                     whisper            abyss
gossamer               ruin                  spectre
brittle                     reflect              talon
frozen                    knit                  gold
murky                    wander            dragon
gaudy                     squeak            shade
secret                     blush               sky
swift                      command        persimmon
ossified                  rot                   scale
obsidian                 yawn              wilderness


I didn't want to actually put these on paper, so I used a random number generator to pick my words.

Here's what I got:

brittle-wander-abyss -> All must wandered the brittle abyss.

frozen-squeak-talon -> Fear the frozen squeak of its talons.

secret-ruin-scale -> Like the whisper of ruined scales on obsidian.

Hey, that almost works!

Quite fun, this.

Go ahead, give it a try. You can make up your own list or use mine. Did you come up with a really good one? Do share with the rest of the class in the comments.






Dec 28, 2015

Fury of Dracula



                                       

We played Fury of Dracula yesterday. It's a co-op boardgame with four vampire hunters going up against one person playing Dracula.

                                       

The only trouble was, the Dracula figure was missing from the box; instead we had two Van Helsings. So Dracula ended up wearing a Christmas sweater for the duration. He also had a cross in one hand, but we decided he was wearing mittens so it wouldn't burn him. Problem solved.

                                        

I played Mina, who can sense if Mr. D. Is in the area, but can't take any bite wounds, because she already has one. You can only do the scanning thing if you're in the same city with another hunter, which led to a certain amount of nudge, nudge, wink, wink type of silliness... "Hey, handsome, wanna meet in Vienna and do the 'Special Action'?"

                                       

            Here he is, with only one health remaining. It took us four hours, but we finally got him. Fun game, if a bit slow at first. Definitely give it a try if you like co-ops.











Writing Book: Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan


Image from amazon.com
                                        

I've read a lot of writing books. The good ones give you solid advice and pointers, but the great ones open up concepts that you thought you understood and give you a new viewpoint into the subject at hand. 

Word Painting is one of the great ones.

Any time you read a writing book, they talk a whole lot about finding your voice, but I think that by voice they mean your own way of doing description. For me, learning about description was a major turning point in my writing. The Elements of Fiction Writing series books Description and Setting  helped me understand the basics, to start thinking about the world differently. Metaphors and similes started to come to me as I walked to work or waited in line at the grocery store. I started noticing the little things, the telling details about people, their habits and quirks. I also stopped walking through the world with blinders on, only focused on getting where I was going, mind full of work woes or shopping lists. There’s a lot to see if you just slow down and really look. Ask any three-year-old.

 Word Painting covers the basics and a whole lot more. There’s a chapter on using all the senses, on setting, on character descriptions, point of view, and plot. I especially liked the chapter on the big picture, an attempt to pin down that elusive thing called theme and explain how your description can help bring it forth. Every chapter also has a number of useful and fun exercises at the end of it.     

Here are a few things I learned:

Good description should be carefully worded, specific and accurate, but also take into account the musical quality of language. It should be sensory, concrete rather than abstract, and in motion when possible. Figurative language is important. Description should be appropriate for the story you’re writing: flowery prose can ruin a story that calls for simple clarity.

Language is musical; harsh consonants give a different feel than liquid vowels. Word choice matters; even if a word is accurate, is it significant, appropriate, musical? Does it fit the story? Is your language active or passive, cluttered or direct?

Observation is important. You have to notice the little things, to be accurate. But you must also use the eye of imagination to bring your descriptions to life. The eye of memory is useful, as is insight and the eye of dreams. You mustn’t judge the object of your gaze, but be accepting. Finding beauty in the grotesque or flaws in perfection can yield effective and unique imagery. Things in motion are more interesting than something standing still. Try to regain the child’s eye of looking at the world, that seriousness of play.

Sometimes it’s more powerful to describe what you don’t see/hear/feel than what you do. (McClanahan calls this the back-door technique.)

Remove the filtering devices: you don’t need to use words like “feel,” “see,” “notice,” or "taste." You can just state image directly.

Synesthesia (the phenomenon in stimulation of a sensory pathway evokes sensation in another) is good.  (You know, something like: The apple tasted of midnight walks under the harvest moon, of first loves lost, of autumn’s cinnamon kisses, and the bitter bite of frost.)

I learned a new term: implied metaphor. It means just what it says: the metaphor is implied rather than stated outright.  For example, you can say “her eyes are like dark forest pools,” or you can imply it: “you could drown in the loamy darkness of her eyes.”

Extending your metaphors is a good idea.

Don’t go totally bonkers with your metaphors though, there’s original and then there’s just plain confusing.

You can use your setting to describe a character, or their inner landscape. (The chapter on describing characters is gold.)

  McClanahan teaches at Queens University and the Rainier Writers workshop, but she also does workshops all over the US, so if you're lucky enough to have a chance to participate in one, go for it. (I'll be right here, waiting for an online course. No, not jealous at all, Okay, I'm lying.) 

Here's a link to Amazon if you want to get the book.
 

Dec 25, 2015

What To Do Over the Holidays

Any holiday plans?

I'm going to take a trip to Middle-earth with a The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings marathon, then go save the universe with Garrus (I've about a third of Mass Effect 3 left for this playthrough), and if I have time, I'll start on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, or maybe Bloodborne. And hopefully make a dent in my to-be-read pile as well.

I also got a huge pile of German silent movie classics for Christmas, so maybe I'll watch a few of those. (Nosferatu's a great Christmas movie, right?)

There's chocolate to eat and Irish coffee to drink, too.

Well, better get started . . .






Dec 24, 2015

Once Upon A Midnight Clear

                              
                            


                            


                            

A full moon on Christmas eve is a rare thing; the last time it happened was 1977, and we'll have to wait until 2034 for the next one. No snow this year, but spectacular, isn't it?

Merry Christmas!

To everybody celebrating Christmas today, have a good one, and happy holidays to those who don't.

My friend Heli asked for a story for Christmas, and here it is. I don't think she'll mind that I shared it with you guys, too.  So this one's for you, Heli. I hope you like it.


Ghosts for Christmas

  

The ghosts arrived promptly at midnight, Earth Sector Three time.  They crowded around the table and examined the offerings set out on it, ignoring the young woman and toddler asleep on the bed in the corner of the room.
Granny Sanelma pushed her tarnished spectacles onto her forehead and brought a gingerbread cookie close to one eye for closer examination.
“This isn’t right, not right at all,” she said, giving the cookie a prim sniff.
Aunt Terhi rolled her eyes, making her cat-eye glasses slide down her nose. “Stop showing off, Grandma. Just because you can move objects--”
   Old uncle Talneli dropped the ghost of a raisin bun he had been gumming. “But she’s right. Worse than cardboard, this is. In my day we used to have proper Christmases, fresh straw on the floor, salted ham, creamy rice porridge with plenty of butter . . . These youngsters have no respect for tradition.”
“Not even a Christmas tree!” Granny Sanelma said, dropping the cookie to the floor. “And just one candle. Oh, I used to have dozens and dozens of them, and the ice lanterns . . . “
“What is this place?” Aunt Terhi asked, examining the strange, humming walls of the room. “There’s no kitchen, and what are all these blinking lights? Just look at those overalls. Do you suppose they’re some kind of pajamas?” She peered out from between the half-closed curtains.  They were of a heavy, slippery material, like the dresses she used to wear in the sixties. “How strange. Granny, can you open these?
When Sanelma slid the drapes open they both gasped.
“Stars! Stars everywhere! What is this place? Oh, I feel faint,” Sanelma said, backing away from the porthole.
Jasmin appeared, her surly teenage face twisted in a scowl. “Jeez, you’re old.” She strode over to the porthole and snapped her ghostly, grey gum with a loud pop. “We’re obviously in space, you old retards. Haven’t you seen Star Trek?”
Sanelma pulled out a fan of black lace and sank on something resembling a couch, fanning herself with quick, trembling movements.
Aunt Terhi still looked out the porthole, staring into the void. The velvet darkness fascinated her, invited her to fall towards the distant suns like silver sparklers in the deep. She forced herself to turn back to the others.  She was the responsible one; she should take charge. “You mean we’re not on Earth anymore? How will we get back?”
Jasmin was busy digging through the drawers that slid out of the wall. “I don’t care.  I don’t want to go home. Just look at this stuff.” She held a maroon jumpsuit up against herself, making her face appear even paler than it was. “This is so rad. I wish I had my iPhone.”
Maybe Jasmin was right? What harm would there be in exploring a little? Terhi sat next to Sanelma and tried to help her calm down. “Come, let’s have another look. It’s beautiful out there.”
“No. I am staying right here.” Sanelma crossed her arms, tucking the fan into her armpit.
 “What about them? You always want to get to know the relatives.” Terhi pointed at the woman and child.
Sanelma’s expression softened and she smiled, revealing a pearly-white set of false teeth.  She bustled over to the bed. “Oh yes, my great-great-great-grandniece and her son.  Your lot were always too adventurous for their own good, Taneli.”
Old Taneli’s face scrunched up like he had just bitten into a lemon. “At least my relatives are here now, the last of us. Looks like your line’s died out. Maybe they were too careful. Died of boredom, I gather.”
“Why you old coot--”
“The child looks just like you, Taneli,” Terhi said, trying to stop the argument. She smoothed a lock of hair off the child’s reddened cheek.
The toddler stirred, opened one eye, then the other, and yawned. Watching the ghosts curiously, he slid off the bed and crawled towards them.
“Now look what you’ve done!” Uncle Taneli croaked, backing away as the boy approached, brandishing his gnarled cane at the toddler.
“He’s kinda cute,” Jasmin said and tickled the boy’s nose with her black feather boa. The boy giggled and then crawled toward the table, where he proceeded to tug at the tablecloth.
“I remember Christmases at your mother’s house. You used to do that, too,” Terhi said, smiling at Jasmin.
“You could have stopped me. That’s how I got the scar on my shoulder.” Jasmin pulled down the sleeve or her lacy top and revealed three shiny, round scars like teardrops.
“Oh yes, you pulled down the candle.”
“The candle! We gotta stop the kid. Fire’s really dangerous in space!” Jasmin said.  She grabbed at the kid, but her hand went right through him. It happened a lot when she was too excited or nervous to concentrate.
“Sanelma, get him!” Terhi yelled. What would happen if their last relatives died? Where would they go to celebrate Christmas? Or would they be stuck in their graves forever? An eternity without anyone to talk to. She’d take Sanelma’s complaining over that any day.
The candle wobbled, and wax spattered on the cross-stitched tablecloth. Sanelma struggled to pick up the child, but she couldn’t. Jasmin screamed.  Puffing like a steam engine, Old Taneli stood at the other side of the table, brow furrowed in concentration. Just as the candle toppled, a swoosh of cold air blew over it and the flame went out.
“That’s done it, Taneli!” Terhi said, almost fading out of sight with relief.
A blob of hot wax had fallen on the child’s cheek, and he pawed at it, getting wax on his fingers, too. He began to wail. The woman on the bed started awake. “Tani? What is it?” She rushed over to the child and picked him up. Frowning, she wiped the cooling wax off his cheek. “Oh, sweetie, what did you do? Let’s get a coldpak for that.” The toddler’s soft curls stuck to her spiky, red hair.
The toddler’s wails abated as she pressed the coldpak to his cheek “You’re okay, hon. Mommy’s sorry. No more candles.” She gave him a gingerbread cookie, an astronaut with a smile of pink frosting.  Slowly, she walked to the porthole and grasped one of the curtains as if to close it, but then let it fall. ”Do you think they’re eating ham and rutabaga casserole by now? Or opening the presents?” She smiled at the child in her arms, but the smile was tinted with sadness. “You don’t even remember her, but I bet your grandma is really missing you. I wish she were here; I wish they all were.” She pressed her hand to the porthole. “Merry Christmas, everyone.”
The ghosts gathered around her, exchanging glances.
“Guys? I’m glad to spend Christmas with you,” Jasmin said.
“Me too,” Terhi said and hugged her. Taneli patted her shoulder, and Sanelma gave her a stiff one-armed hug.
 Silent, they stood around the mother and child.
At last, they could feel morning coming, a tugging in their stomachs. Young Tani waved at them as they disappeared.  



   

Dec 23, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: The Christmas Edition

In the spirit of the season, I went for words that have to do with Christmas this week. Got your hot chocolate and candy cane ready? Ok, let's begin.

Christmas is pretty self-explanatory (from Christ, of course). It's a combination of Old English Cristes + mæsse, so Christ+mass. The word mass is actually quite interesting: it comes from Latin mittere "to let go, send," so a dismissal, probably from the last words of the Latin service Ite, missa est, meaning "Go, the prayer has been sent."

In Finnish Christmas is joulu, which sounds suspiciously close to Yule,which comes from Old English geol meaning Christmas Day. The origins of the word are in the Norse jol, a heathen feast taken over by christianity. So that's probably where we get joulu. We are a bunch of heathens here, you know. In Finland, the elements of a pagan celebration called kekri (a bit like Halloween) mixed with the Christmas traditions. That's why we're supposed to leave the Christmas feast out all night so the dead can come take their part, for example. Not that most English Christmas traditions are very christian, either. The Christmas tree,  gift giving, and mistletoe, all of pagan origin. Happy Saturnalia, suckers!  

Speaking of mistletoe, the sprig that killed the god Balder, its origins are in Old English mistiltan, from mistel "basil, mistletoe,"of unknown origin, + tan "twig." The custom of kissing under it came from the Victorian times, probably because of the associations with vitality and fertility. 

Twelfth Night comes from Old English twelftan niht, meaning the eve of Epiphany. (See last week's Twelve Days of Christmas post, if you're interested.)  Epiphany, the festival of the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles, comes from the Old French epiphanie, from Latin epiphania, from Greek epiphaneia "manifestation, festival held in commemoration of the appearance of a god at a certain place." From epi "on"+ phainein "to show." In Finland, we just call it Loppiainen, like the end, ending. Pretty prosaic.

Santa Claus we all know comes from the Middle Dutch Sinter Niklaas (Saint Nicholas), but did you know that Santa has absorbed elements of the one-eyed god Wotan, associated with the Germanic midwinter celebration of Yule? He led the the wild hunt through the sky. Nice mental picture, that.

Okay, let's do something nice and safe next, like Gingerbread. It comes from Latin gingimbratus "gingered." Later, the ending changed by folk etymology to -brede, bread. The word dates from the 13th century, but the meaning of a spiced cookie is only from the 15th. I guess they just ate the candied ginger on its own before that?

Carolling comes from Old French carole "a joyful song, to dance in a ring," which comes from Greek khoraules "a flute player who accompanies the choral dance," from khoros "chorus"+ aulein "to play the flute," from aulos "reed instrument." The Christmas thing is from the 15th century.

I think that's enough for now. What's that? One more? Okay!

Here's a bonus: Krampus, an Austro-Bavarian Christmas devil that punishes misbehaving children. He's best buds with Saint Nick, of course. I couldn't find an etymology for the name, but I wonder if it has to do with kramen "to rummage about" or Krampf "convulsions," or maybe Kralle, "claw"? Any German readers out there? Do you know?
You can read more about Krampus here. Nightmares guaranteed.


Sources:
http://www.etymonline.com
https://en.wikipedia.org




Dec 21, 2015

My Favourite Christmas Books

                               

It's almost Christmas, so I thought I'd share some of my favourite Christmas stories with you. A Christmas Carol  is an obvious choice, I know, but I love it. Ghosts, Victorian Christmas traditions, and Dickens' quirky characters. What more do you need?


                               

This is one of the very first books I read in English, bought at a school book fair. It's about an animal activist who takes in a stray cat on Christmas Eve. If you like cats, you'll love this one. 

                              

This is actually the second book of Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, but it has a wonderful description of an English family Christmas in it. (And magic, and the Old Ones, and chills, thrills and adventure. If you haven't read the series, go for it. It's amazing.) 

                              

Not sold? How about a Christmas in Narnia, where Santa brings swords and daggers to all the good little children? I think this is a book you need to have read as a child to enjoy it fully. The allegory can feel a bit heavy-handed to an adult.

So, those are my picks. What about you? What's your favourite Christmas book?

Dec 20, 2015

Making Christmas

                              
                           


                            


                             


                            


                            


                            





Dec 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I saw The Force Awakens yesterday. Overall, I enjoyed it. The space battles were awesome, and the lightsaber fights, but the great thing was that this actually felt like the old Star Wars movies. There's a good mix of action, nostalgia, and laughs. And no Jar Jar in sight, I might add.

I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but there might be a few, so read at your own risk.

I loved the new characters, Rey and Finn are awesome and have real chemistry, but overall the movie felt a bit too familiar. It's like they took everything we love about Star Wars and put it in one movie. You can decide for yourself if that's a good thing. Personally, I'd have liked to see something a bit different, plot-wise. "Chewie, we're home" just about sums it up.

The exposition felt a bit clumsy at times, with that "As you know, Bob" flavour, but this might be a writer thing. I polled the non-writers in the group, and they said it didn't bother them. But this is a minor quibble, at least the dialogue isn't cringeworthy, like in the prequels.

I don't know if it's me getting older or the world changing around me, but a lot of movies these days feel quite rushed. Everything happens at a breakneck pace, and it's all about the action. I felt this way about The Force Awakens, too. What happened to character moments? Or maybe that's all we get now, moments. For me, the emotional impact of the story suffers when it's all action all the time. With The Force Awakens, there is a major plot point near the end that should have been developed more to give it the gravitas it deserved. (If you've seen the film, you know the one.) You can also see that a lot of world-building went into the film. The planets are gorgeous, but we don't stay on any long enough to really explore them.

The big bad of the movie is the First Order, the successor of the Galactic Empire, and in place of Emperor Palpatine, we have Supreme Leader Snoke. (Did anyone else notice that he looks a lot like Voldemort?) Standing in for Darth Vader is Kylo Ren, a Knight of Ren. I liked him well enough, even though he's no Vader and his fits of temper seemed a bit laughable at times. The movie actually uses this to its advantage, though, and gets a really funny moment out of it. Ren also had a new kind of lightsaber, with tiny lightsabers jutting out of the hand guard. Am I the only one who wonders how that design came to be selected? Isn't the whole point of a hand guard to, say, guard the hand, not burn off the user's fingers? I dunno, maybe he wears special gloves, or something? Another thing I'd have liked to know more about is their superweapon. How does it actually work?

The Force Awakens isn't perfect, but I think most Star Wars fans will enjoy it. Only time will tell if it can stand up to repeat viewings.

Oh, and BB-8 is the cutest thing ever.

Go see the film. You won't regret it.







Dec 18, 2015

Gingerdeadmen

                          

                            

                                                 First, you need one of these.


                             
                              


                               

                                                           Then bake. Frost when cool.


       
                          
                     


Voila. Gingerdeadmen. Best enjoyed with a White Russian and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before           Christmas. 

Dec 16, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: The Twelve Days of Christmas

                     
XRF 12days.jpg
Image from Wikipedia
                         

I've always though "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was a bit weird (who gives someone eight maids a-milking for Christmas? Must be a bit nuts...), but then I discovered that it's actually a children's memory game, where the days stand for the twelve days of celebrating from Christmas day until Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas celebrations. Some think that the gifts have significance as to the sports played in each month of the year, or maybe it's a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith.

So, here we go:

1. A partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus Christ, because the bird is willing to sacrifice itself to draw away predators from its young. (The "true love" in the song also represents Christ.)

2. Two turtle doves refer to the New and Old Testament

3. Three french hens stand for faith, hope, and love

4. Four calling birds are the four gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John

5. Five golden rings mean the five books of the Old Testament

6. Six geese a-laying refer to the six days of creation

7. Seven swans a-swimming are the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit (Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy)

8. Eight maids a-milking refer to the eight beatitudes (Eight blessings from The Sermon on the Mount. The word 'beautitude' comes from Latin beātitūdō, which means happiness.)

9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the holy spirit (Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, and Chastity.)

10. Ten lords a-leaping stand for the ten commandments

11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful apostles

12.Twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of believe in the Apostles' creed

Makes much more sense now.


Sources:

wikipedia.com
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com

Dec 15, 2015

A Christmas Sweater and a Sweatshirt

                            
  
          Do you want a slightly geekier Christmas sweater? Or a sweatshirt dressed up as one? 


                  

           These are both from Merchoid. Guess what I'm wearing to see Star Wars this weekend?
(Oh, yeah. Merchoid's sizing is pretty generous, so you might want to go down a size if you get one.     The sweatshirt ended up being too big for me, but it fit Hubby perfectly, so no harm done.)

Dec 14, 2015

The Weirdest Finnish Christmas Carols

                                


Traditional Finnish Christmas carols are kind of weird and gloomy. Forget mommy kissing Santa Claus while he's coming to town and check out some of these gems (Click the Finnish titles to listen to them on to Youtube.):


Varpunen jouluaamuna

Sävel: Otto Kotilainen
Sanat: Sakari Topelius, suom. K. A. Hougberg


Lumi on jo peittänyt kukat laaksosessa,
järvenaalto jäätynyt talvipakkasessa,
varpunen pienoinen syönyt kesäeinehen,
järvenaalto jäätynyt talvipakkasessa.

Pienen pirtin portailla oli tyttökulta:
Tule varpu, riemulla, ota siemen multa!
Joulu on, koditon varpuseni onneton,
tule tänne riemulla, ota siemen multa!

Tytön luo nyt riemuiten lensi varpukulta:
Kiitollisna siemenen otan kyllä sulta.
Palkita Jumala tahtoo kerran sinua.
Kiitollisna siemenen ota kyllä sulta.

En mä ole, lapseni, lintu tästä maasta.
Olen pieni veljesi, tulin taivahasta.
Siemenen pienoisen, jonka annoit köyhällen,
pieni sai sun veljesi enkeleitten maasta.



The Sparrow On Christmas Morning
Snow has already covered the flowers in the vale,


Frozen [has] the wave of lake, in the frost of winter.
Little sparrow, [has already] eaten the food [left] of summer,
Frozen [has] the wave of lake, in the frost of winter.

On the stairs of a little cabin was a dear girl:
“Come, sparrow, with joy, take a seed from me!
It's Christmas, my homeless and unhappy sparrow,
Come here with joy, take a seed from me!”

The dear sparrow with joy now flew to the girl:
“Gratefully I shall have the seed from you!
One day God wants to reward you.
Gratefully I shall have the seed from you!”

“I am not, my child, a bird from this world.
I am your little brother, I came from Heaven.
The tiny seed you gave for the poor,
was given to your little brother, from the Land of Angels.”

Translation from http://lyricstranslate.com/


Then we have this (English translation by me):


Konsta Jylhän Joululaulu


Joulun aatto nyt saa, jo ilta tummuu ja hiljenee maa. 
Kuka kulkee nyt yksinään kalmistoon, kuka yksin näin kylmässä on?
 Pieni lapsonen vain, joka näin kiiruhtain jälleen kynttilän haudalle tuo. 
Paikka on hiljainen, tumma, liikkumaton, äidin haudalle valon hän suo.


Liekin niin häilyvän tuo hauta rakkaimman hetkeksi saa. 
Sitä katsovi silmin niin kaipaavin, sitä katsoo ja taas odottaa: 
koska joulun hän saa, koska voi naurahtaa kera muiden taas kuin ennenkin? 
Mutta niin hiljainen koti yksinäisten,on kuin puuttuisi siunaus sen.


Äänen hiljaisen sointuvan nyt jostakin kuulevi hän, joka lämpimin lausehin lohduttaa, 
joka nousemaan katsehen saa: "älä huoliisi jää, nosta pystyyn taas pää, joka hetki sun kanssasi käyn. 
Lapsi joulun mä oon, sinut vien kartanoon, josta lähdit, sun valonas näyn.

Joulun ensimmäisen mä olla tallissa härkien sain. Sinne tähtöset tuikkivat valkeuttaan, 
sinne saapuivat tietäjät maan: 
sitä taas viettämään sinun kanssasi jään, sinun joulusi kauniiksi teen. 
Sinä huomata saat: surun laaksot ja maat voivat peittyä kirkkauteen


Konsta Jylhä's Christmas Carol

It's Christmas Eve. Night falls, the land falls quiet
Who walks in the churchyard, all alone in the cold?
A child, once more he hastens, lays a candle on the grave
All is silent, dark, and still. A light he brings to his mother's grave.

The wavering flame, for a moment, lights the beloved grave
He watches with longing, he watches and waits, once more
When will he have a Christmas again, laugh with the others once more?
But silent are the homes of the lonely

A hushed, melodious voice sounds, consoles him with warm words
"Leave your sorrows, raise your head, child. I am with you," it says.
"A child of Christmas am I, I will guide you home tonight, I will be your light."

"I spent the first Christmas in a manger. The stars twinkled, the wise men came
I will keep it again with you tonight, a beautiful Christmas.
You will see, child: light can drown sorrow's valleys and lands, bring brightness."


Bummed out yet? What about this one? (English translation by me.)


Me käymme joulun viettohon

Music: Martti Turunen
Lyrics: Mauno Isola

Me käymme joulun viettohon
taas kuusin, kynttilöin.
Puun vihreen oksat kiedomme
me hopein, kultavöin,
vaan muistammeko lapsen sen,
mi taivaisen tuo kirkkauden?

Me käymme joulun viettohon
niin maisin miettehin,
nuo rikkaan täyttää aatokset,
ja mielen köyhänkin:
Suun ruoka, juoma, meno muu.
Laps' hankeen hukkuu, unhoittuu.

Turhuuden turhuus kaikki on,
niin turhaa touhu tää;
me kylmin käymme sydämin,
laps' sivuun vain jos jää.
Me lahjat jaamme runsahat,
Laps' -tyhjät kätes ihanat.

Oi ystävät, jos myöskin me
kuin tietäjämme nuo
veisimme kullan, mirhamin
tuon rakkaan lapsen luo,
niin meille joulu maallinen
ois alku joulun taivaisen.



Celebrating Christmas

We celebrate Christmas
With glittering trees and candles
The green boughs we wrap
In garlands of silver and gold
But do we recall the holy child
Who brings the heavenly light?


We celebrate Christmas
With such earthly thought
They fill the minds
Of rich and poor alike
Food and drink, frivolity
The child is lost in the snow, forgotten.


Everything is meaningless and futile
So pointless, all we do.
Our hearts grow cold
If we forget the holy child
Us, we share the flood of gifts
The child, his lovely hands empty


O friends, if only we
Like the wise men of Betlehem
Would bring gold and myrrh
to that beloved child
Then for us, this earthly feast
Could be the start of a true Christmas.


What's that? Oh, you want something happy for a change? This one is actually Swedish, so I'm cheating a little. (English translation by me.)


Hei, tonttu-ukot
Swedish folksong

Hei, tonttu-ukot hyppikää,
nyt on riemun raikkahin aika!
Hei, tonttu-ukot hyppikää,
nyt on riemu raikkahin aika!
Hetken kestää elämää
ja sekin synkkä ja ikävää.
Hei, tonttu-ukot hyppikää,
nyt on riemu raikkahin aika!


Hey, ye merry elves

Hey, ye merry elves, jump and dance
It's the happiest time of the year!
Hey, ye merry elves, jump and dance
It's the happiest time of the year!
Life only lasts a moment
and even that, dark and miserable
Hey, ye merry elves, jump and dance
It's the happiest time of the year!


I think I've spread enough Christmas cheer for today.

Go have a candy cane latte and listen to Rudolf on repeat; you'll feel better, I promise,