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Traditions

Traditions

This is not exactly about things…more about traditions. There is this traditional Finnish First-of-May-drink called SIMA. Once every year I realize that I have forgotten to start collecting pop bottles early enough. Then I go and by Coke and Jaffa and Pommac, to the great delight of my kids- because normally, I do not by soft drinks. They get to drink a lot, because I need the bottles. Every year it feels a bit too late and a bit too much, and I think about skipping the whole SIMA-making thing. But when my children probe, with this special air of totally not getting the point of why on earth I would not make it this year… I have no plausible answer. “Too much” just doesn’t do it. Because really, in the end, it isn’t. Water, brown and white sugar, boil it up, add lemon zest and lemons, let cool, add hops and yeast. Let stand at room temperature for 24h. The scent as well as the visual of this bubbling pot brings back MY childhood years, when, growing up in Germany, my Finnish mother would every year do the very same thing. I remember how we kids would sneak down into the basement, look at the mixture, smell it, taste some (pssst!)- wonderful, wondersome and very special memories.
The next day, the mixture is already bubbling. It needs to be poured through a cloth and after that you bottle it up. The kids love to drop the raisins into the bottles. After about a week, the drink is all done. The more raisins plop into your glass, the luckier you are!
In Finland, the First of May is more than just the First of May. It marks the end of a long, dark and cold winter. There is still snow above the arctic circle, and even below, there might be some patches and mounts. But spring, and eventually summer, are certainly in the air.
It is difficult to explain this feeling. But somehow, even as children, we felt it- when Mom was starting SIMA. And having lived in Finland for the past ten years now, we all know it. This very feeling of vappu, the Finnish First of May. Every year I am happy I did not skip the tradition of making SIMA from scratch.
Things, stuff and traditions are constantly being questioned- and they need to be. This particular tradition is one that I intend to keep.

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