Tuesday, 7 June 2011

My national garb.

This is my national dress. In more proper terms it's in the group of ancient dresses, built after grave finds. However, the Aino - yes, this dress' name is Aino - was never really an ancient dress, it was the first of them and meant as a fantasy outfit. The first time it was seen was on a theatre stage in 1892. However, people fell in love with it with such passion that the popularity alone cemented the Aino dress' status!

Besides that there are two series of ancient dresses, the old and the new series, and the new one is the more accurate one: since the making of the old series it has been found out that viking era clothes had a completely different cut. However, the dresses have stabilized their position as official national dresses, and can therefore be worn wherever one would wear a national dress. So if f.ex. the president invited me over to celebrate the independence day this dress could potentially be an option. But only potentially, since it's not on the list of officially acceptable festive wear.

The dress is often chosen by the wearer's home area, but you don't necessarily have to get your own area dress. I have another one besides this, a Sääksmäki basic (as opposed to the more elaborate and ornamental Sääksmäki celebratory) that I inherited from an old relative of mine. Buying a dress is not usually an option anyway - they're expensive as FAN and I was merely lucky to find this one for an affordable price. Bought new, the Aino costs 1730€ and as national dresses go its price ranks in the middle. 

Lookie it's a tiny knife! This is how you know it's a Finnish woman's dress: it has a blade by default.

The rules to wearing one of these dresses are ridiculously strict, but here are a couple of important points:

- The dress has to be complete with all parts that go with it, jewellery, headgear, dress, possibly apron and so on. With Aino this is challenging: due to its high popularity people used to re-create the dress for themselves, sometimes opting for different headwear etc. Nowadays you hardly see the original version with the red, bronze-decorated apron and white headdress.
- A grown woman IOW me really ought to wear that headdress. The silk ribbons are for maidens. I'm planning to make myself one.
- My shoes are WRONG. The only suitable ones are either black or brown buckle shoes or a specifically-made national dress shoes. However, I didn't have a suitable pair so I had to make do with the ones I had. -.-
- My socks are also wrong. They're not allowed to be made out of anything else than cotton or wool. 
- Talking about other things that are wrong, I was also wearing colourful underwear with flower pattern and lace. This was particularly unacceptable (I told you, the rules of the national dress are ridiculously strict)! :D
- Hair must be combed away from the forehead and fastened to the side. Otherwise the hairstyle must go according to the outfit. No sidehawks, baw.

If you can guess what I'm attempting to do in this photo you're either a Finn or know a lot about the country! :D


  1. I really love this look and hope that I had my own national garb. Unfortunately they are very expensive, even feresi which is a Carelian less fancy staple which I really like. Other carelian garbs are also close to my heart.

  2. Feresi at least is easy to sew, if you feel inclined to make one. They don't even have fabric rules other than that it has to be good quality. The beautiful thing about Finnish national garb is that it doesn't absolutely have to be store bought. In fact making it, or at least making some bits of it one's self makes it more authentic in the eyes of Those Who Care.

    Otherwise, I feel your pain. My dad's side has roots in Rautjärvi and oh how well I want that dress! And then I look at the price tag and cry. Moitie has nothing on Finnish national dresses...

  3. I do not understand the concept of national dresses. I am pretty reasonably sure we don't have such a thing, though if we did I'd still be too much of an uncultured slob to know about it. Hmm.

    Oh, but pretty! And I have no idea what you're doing in the last photo. What are you doing?

  4. The idea of national dress varies slightly from country to country, but basically it just stands for the country you're born in and wearing one is a patriotic act. A national dress can be worn to any occasion, even to the Independence Day Ball at the presidential castle tonight. Mine is a bit of an exception in this sense since it's an ancient dress as opposed to "real" national dresses, but our own president wore once an ancient dress to her very own Independence Day celebrations so I think I could be excused. :D

    I'm - hm, this is embarrassingly pretentious actually - standing in the pose of Finland-maiden. We fancy our country is shaped like a girl with one arm stretched out (she used to have two arms but alas, one was cut in WWII).

  5. I'm really bad at remembering where I left comments if I don't click the little subscribe thing.

    Ok, so a dress... of patriotism. Who decides what that should be? I can't imagine one for the US. We're not that old, as a unit, anyway. I can imagine Native American traditional dresses but not wearing them, being descended from, um, invading hordes. Yes. History is kind of awful.

    Oh, cute! And imagining your country as a girl is much better than imagining it as Sweden's... never mind.

    One of your arms is Russia. Does it like being Russia? Or would it rather be Finland?

  6. Heh, usually a specific committee is called together for deciding what kind of dress should be the national dress and why, and exactly how it should look like. In Finland these rules are really strict but in other countries the national dress of a certain area can vary.

    Why yes. Girls are prettier than men's never minds! As for the last questions, try asking them at a small pub or a bar and enjoy an evening full of rather passionate, if one-sided, discussion. It's one of those hot topics, see.

    (Personally I'm of the opinion that we ought to just count our losses. I know many people feel it was unfair that we lost those areas but that's what tends to happen a lot when a country loses a war. Getting them back now would mean a whole lot of work re-building them and figuring out what to do with the people who live there now.)

  7. I'm so tempted to go to a local bar and see how many of the patrons could even identify Finland on a map. :-P Americans are so notoriously poor at geography... sigh.

    That's an interesting perspective. Wouldn't they stay living there? That rebuilding would be necessary implies they haven't done so well being part of Russia.

    I guess I'm wondering if the people there identify as Finnish? Or Russian? Or neither? Or does it matter?

    Actually I'm not sure what my question is. *puzzles*

  8. Well, they'd be Russian to begin with and that would be a bureaucratic problem. Should they be granted citizenship of Finland, or should they be treated as foreigners living in Finland (in which case they would each need a visa just to live in their own homes)? What about those people who are considered our "relative" tribes, would they receive special treatment? Also regardless of ethnicity they all speak Russian and we'd suddenly get a huge Russian-speaking minority. How would we be able to cater to their needs, on official level? Would Russian be treated as Swedish, Sami, Kaale and Finnish sign language, meaning that you'd have a right to get service in your mother tongue? The above mentioned languages are all spoken by Finns though, and if the people of the area were to keep their original citizenship, where would they stand in the bureaucratic view?

    I'm sure most of them identify as Russian, and those who do not don't identify as Finns. More like they base their identity on their tribe, f.ex. Ingrians are Ingrians first and foremost, nationality is secondary. Most of the people living there at the moment are Russian by ethnicity, however, and I'm quite sure they would not take it well if the land they built on suddenly changed owner.

  9. Thank you! I think I understand better now. Not well, but better.

    So, were the people living there when Russia won those areas in the war relocated to Finland? And it was resettled by Russians? That hadn't even occurred to me. *feels dumb*

  10. And I should have said, please don't feel obligated to use your time answering my questions. I'm sure I can look this stuff up somewhere. I feel like I'm imposing on you. Sorry!

  11. There were people living in those areas but they were largely evacuated during the WWII. Afterwards things were... complicated. However, 1990-2011 the Ingrians who wanted to move to Finland were allowed to do so and they were considered "returning immigrants" (IDK actually how to properly translate the term). Definitely the area was re-settled by Russians, who now have their homes there.

    And no problem, I'll be happy to explain whatever I can about the strange dark forest that goes by the name Finland. XD

  12. Yeah, I don't know why I hadn't thought of that. The US has its own history of forced relocation. It's just mainly not considered modern history so much. That's an excuse. Just my american-formed worldview is ... being adjusted right now.


    Finland does look foresty, but it doesn't look particularly dark in pictures! But I suppose it would be silly to put up pictures of it being dark. Wouldn't be able to see anything.

    Where in Finland are you from?

  13. Finland actually is one big forest! :D

    I'm originally from middle Finland, city of Lahti, but in fact I was born and have lived most of my life in the south coast, esp. Helsinki. The south is much "souther" than Iceland so days are longer there even at the middle of winter. Besides Finland tends to get a massive amount of snow every winter and that makes everything look lighter.

  14. Souther! Um, "farther south"? "more southern"? Ok, that doesn't sound right either. Why doesn't souther work? Southern is an adjective, south is a direction... directions can't be adjectives? What are they, then?

    I fail at grammar.

    Almost all of the nighttime pictures of Finland I've seen had snow and aurora, which is very pretty and not very dark.

    The other nighttime picture I remember featured city lights and some guys stripping in a public fountain, which was entertaining in its own way, but I'm more likely to spring for a plane ticket to see northern lights on snow. XD

  15. Ah, that last one probably had something to do with ice hockey and/or winning Sweden... :D