Shrove Sunday marks the start of spring. In Finland Shrove is a combination of Christian and pagan traditions, with different rituals to ensure good produce in the summer. Back in the agrarian days, for instance, the food eaten during the celebrations would have to be extra fatty. That would grow the cows and pigs healthy and strong. Young people of the villages would go sledding, and the farther your sled would slide, the taller the flax would grow. To turn the tall flax into beautiful fabrics, girls were supposed to keep their hair open. Nowadays fatty food and winter-sports are both still an important part of Shrove (laskiainen, in Finnish). Our family spends it on the yard of Pappa, tobogganing and skiing - and enjoying mum's gorgeous bakings.

In the coming weeks, the nights will still be very cold so the snow stays on the ground, but the intensity of the sun increases rapidly. That's why this so called "spring winter" is such wonderful time for outside fun!