A Day in Finland--Around the World in 12 Dishes

This month Around the World in 12 Dishes takes us to Finland. We had big plans to try lots of different recipes for this month, but our plans didn't work out completely. We did however enjoy making a wonderful Finnish breakfast called pannukakku. Our recipe came from the wonderful book, Easy Breakfasts from Around the World by Sheila Griffin Llanas. What I like most about the book is that it gives a little information about the country the recipe comes from as well as a bit about the recipe.

From this book we learned that Lapland, Finland's northern province is above the Arctic Circle, so in the summer the sun never sets and in the winter it never rises. Some Laplanders herd reindeer. We also learned that the capital city, Helinski is in southern Finland, but is the most northern capital city in Europe.

Pannukakku is described by the book as a baked pancake. It puffs up in the oven and sinks as it cools. It is often served with fresh fruit, whipped cream and powdered sugar. We ate it with fresh fruit since that is what we had at home. Steve described it tasting like a custard pie.
Pannukakku is an easy recipe using butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, flour and milk. I was tempted to add some cinnamon because we add it to everything, but wanted to stay traditional to the Finnish recipe, so we did not. It did not need it. We all loved it.

Next we did some coloring pages. We did the map, the flag and discovered lily of the valley is the national flower of Finland. It is one of our springtime favorites and is in bloom in our yard now.

Next we read some Finnish stories. In the Stories from the Sea, we read the Finnish story on why the sea is salty. Another legend/myth type story is When Bear Came Down from the Sky. The Princess Mouse is very much a fairy tale with similar story to the frog princess. Mika's Apple Tree is a wonderful story about a stubborn boy who works hard to grow an apple tree near his house even though his house is on a rocky point. This story involves sharing quite a bit about the country since his two uncles come to visit when his father is home and all three men have different jobs in different parts of the country.
We continued our look at Finland by listening to Lapin ai din kehtolaulu by Hannele Wida. It is the third song on the CD Lullabies for Kids from Around the World. We also read about birthdays in Finland. Birthdays Around the World by Mary D. Lankford, told us that Finland is smaller than the state of Montana. It has sixty thousand lakes and sixty-five islands. Plus forests cover almost three-fourths of the low flat lands and rolling hills. Daylight in the summer may last nineteen hours and when it does set it barely dips below the horizon.

In Finland a child's birthday celebration is important to the entire family. Birthday parties are usually held on Saturday or Sunday so everyone can attend. The Finnish tradition is to open gifts as soon as they are received. Finnish children sing "Happy Birthday to You" when they arrive at the door. A traditional Finnish birthday cake is three layers and is filled with fruit and whipped cream. The candles on the top are almost hidden by the whipped cream, candies, kiwis or strawberries. It is usually served after a celebration lunch. A popular Finnish birthday game is Onginta, which means Angling or Fishing. Each child takes a turn standing at a cloth held up by two adults. The child drops a rod attached to a line and hook over the cloth. An adult attaches a small basket on the hook and the child reels in the prize.

Our final exploration of Finland came from the book Going to School Around the World by Melissa Koosmann. In the third chapter, a boy named Matti arrives just in time for school in Finland. The chapter describes the day in Matti's life. Matti is in the third grade. School is free in Finland and all of the children receive a free hot lunch as well. During his school day there was science, math, Finnish language and literature, English language, physical education, music, arts and crafts and religion (the religion of his parents' choice). He had two recesses before lunch, but during the shorter fifteen minute one it was his turn to clean the classroom. For the arts and crafts they made coffee filter snowflakes and the desks were covered with food coloring so it took the full fifteen minutes to do the cleaning. The students address the teacher by his/her title, "teacher" in the morning greeting and when they are in trouble. All the other times they call their teachers by their first names. In the winter months they hold a mock Olympic Games with skiing. Matti's favorite winter sport is ice hockey though. After school Matti jogged home to stay in shape for hockey. He tried to play some computer games, but his father told him to do his homework. Since he did not have much homework, he was able to play computer games after finishing it and then he joined his father for dinner.

Matti looks forward to learning Sweden and another language in high school as well as learning more about computers. In third grade only the teacher has a computer in the classroom.  The book also gave the instructions to make the coffee filter snowflakes, so we did. Hazel decided her last one looked like the sun so we used red and yellow food coloring to color it instead of the blue.

That is how we explored Finland. Next month it will be Spain. Will you join us on that trip?

Here is the Finland passport and the Finland-themed placemat

Be sure to check out these great Finnish explorations and add your own here.


  1. Some of my ancestors came from Finland. My mom made the dish you are talking about when we were growing up, but she called it Monster Pancakes. I had no idea it was Finnish. I'm pinning this very cool post for when we study Finland.

  2. That cookbook sounds great! I'm going to look for a copy and I'm going to pin this so I remember all the other resources when we get around to studying Finland - thank you for linking up to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop.

  3. Thank you for sharing these resources! I am always looking for international kids' books, but especially global cookbooks. Thanks for linking up at the Creative Kids Culture Hop!

  4. Oh, I want to make a Pannukakku (and just between us, I think I'd add cinnamon, too!) Thanks for linking up at the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #4!

  5. Awesome post and so complete! Thanks for participating again :0


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