Thursday, February 18, 2010

Looks like Mardi Gras,'s Penkinpainajaiset (Penkkarit)

Finland is a Lutheran country and Tuesday passed without any purple or green or throwing of beads. But today I heard yelling outside our building and looked out the window to see trucks full of screaming students leaving the school across the street.

Walking toward the kauppatori to meet Sophia, I saw traffic brought to a standstill by the parade of trucks all filled with students in costume chanting and pelting candy.

Sophia warned me that this was happening. She called me from the bus to tell me she had been pelted with candy by students from the Norssi school.

A woman on the sidewalk explained to me that today was the last day of classes for these 18/19 year olds. They have been in school for twelve years and they celebrate the end of classes with this parade and then perhaps a cruise to Stockholm or a night in a nightclub. In March they will take their exams.

My Finnish teacher told us that these students are called abiturientti or abi (abit plural). They will take 4 - 6 exams in March. They have already taken their first exam in Finnish. They will have to take a second Finnish exam, an exam in the foreign language they have studied, then a choice of history, psychology, physics, religion, and then either Swedish or math.

Tomorrow, the junior class (17/18 year olds) celebrate being the oldest in the school. They will go to school dressed in fancy dress or vintage clothes and spend the day ballroom dancing. My teacher said that they have been practicing dancing since September. And then tomorrow evening, the parents and grandparents will come to the school to watch the ball.

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