Monday, November 5, 2012

Melancholy and Kaamos

So it's getting to that time of year again.  Finns are getting concerned and asking me if I've started taking my Vitamin D supplements, as the days are getting rapidly shorter.  It's not because I look sick, quite the opposite, I hear finnish chatter in the staff room, it seems that for the past two weeks the only words I've heard are the words 'Vitamiini D'.  It is understandable, I leave for work, and its dark, I finish work, and its dark.  Soon there will be about 4 hours of twilight, where the sun barely makes it above the horizon.  It's called kaamos in Finnish or polar night, which I think is a rubbish translation, but oh well.

So last year was my first Finnish winter, I dealt with the darkness fine, the snow was awesome and minus 20, is still only a little bit nippy.  I'm looking forward to this winter, but with one considerable twist, this year, I'm embracing my inner Finn.  What on earth does that mean? Well, I'm going to listen to Finnish music (which is pretty depressing) and embrace the feeling of being a little bit melancholy.   This probably sounds like a crazy idea. Why would anyone want to feel melancholy? In Britain, it seems that only the positive emotions are celebrated, if a public display of emotion is to be tolerated at all.  I can remember my grandmother saying to me once "the problem with modern-day society is that everyone feels everything and insists on talking about it".  Sounds rather depressing doesn't it? Well, it isn't.  I had my first Finnish Winter melancholic moment last Friday when I was on the bus to work in Hervanta.  It wasn't that I was depressed, I was just a bit apathetic, a little bit sad, but in some crazy-backwards way, that meant I wasn't actually sad.  I enjoyed the feeling of just sitting and feeling a bit unhappy.  I'm not even sure there's a word for the feeling in English, because unhappy and sad, seem too strong, and melancholy seems a bit pathetic.

It's not something we really experience in Britain, if we do, we are accused of wallowing in our own self-pity, or depression.  Yet, here, in Finland, its something completely different.  Its a way of life to be a bit sad during the mornings and evenings, when its dark.  Its even enjoyable for people here, although, they would rarely admit it.  So as I walked to work this morning, in the cold and dark, through the thickest fog I've seen in years, I was listening to PMMP (this Finnish band) and just enjoyed the thoughts of, shit, its cold and dark and there's nearly 6 months left of this.  That being said, Nothing will destroy my joy when the snow comes properly.  I yearn for minus 20, a metre of snow and hardly any sunlight.

If you're interested, this was the song that sparked this whole blog post when I was sat on the bus last Friday. 

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