Thursday, January 12, 2012

Party animal

Tomorrow, January 13th, is Nuutinpäivä, Knut's day. It's the end of the christmas. I'm not very familiar with the Knut's day tradition, so I decided to educate myself about this matter.

According the old Finnish law, the christmas peace, joulurauha, was declared on the christmas eve and it lasted for 20 days - which means that the peace period ended on Knut's day. That's why Knut's day was quite of a carnival: men were dressed as women, women were dressed as men, some were dressed as goat, Nuuttipukki, wearing a mask and fur coat inside out. People were going around from house to house, making tricks, drinking the leftovers of christmas beer, making noise and causing hassle.

A Nuuttipukki mask from the 19th century. Image by Museovirasto.

I've understood the Knut riots eventually died out around the second world war, and the tradition was more common in the western Finland. The east side was doing the same kind of goat riots on kekri, after the harvesting season; they were dressed as kekripukki. And in fact, joulupukki, "Christmas goat" (the real version of Santa Claus) belongs to the same goat family.

One thing still makes me wonder. Out of all the animals, why pukki, goat has had such a special role? Well, what ever the reason was, pukki seemed to be one hell of a party animal.

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