80th Laskiainen Finnish sliding festival this weekend

The Laskiainen Sliding Festival in Palo is an annual Finnish mid-winter tradition. (PHOTO: Screenshot from Andrew Krueger YouTube video)

Laskiainen organizer Gerry Kangas of Palo appeared on the Feb. 6, 2016 Great Northern Radio Show in Aurora, Minnesota. (PHOTO: Grant Frashier)

This weekend the Laskiainen Finnish Sliding Festival celebrates its 80th year in Palo, Minnesota.

Laskiainen is an old Finnish tradition that made the leap to Northern Minnesota during the immigration of the early 20th Century. It’s a celebration of the fact that the days are getting longer, allowing people in northern climates to have more fun.

For Finns, this means working into the evening, doing tasks that require more light. Finns are wild like that.

The reason Laskiainen involves sliding down a hill is because of a tradition that states whoever slides the farthest will have the best harvest that year. This comes with the dual effect of flattening the snow over the planting ground, which some people think helps somehow. (My own family is several generations removed from growing our own flax, or even knowing what to do with flax should we happen upon some).

The event kicks off tonight at 6:30 with the Queen’s Ball and coronation of the new Miss Laskiainen.

Laskiainen also boasts traditional foods and live music. Favorites include split pea soup with ham and moijakka, a Finnish fish soup. Various bakers and artisans set up tables with their wares. And, of course, sliding all day Saturday and Sunday. You can read the full Laskiainen flyer at the bottom of this post.

One of my absolute favorite broadcasts of my Great Northern Radio Show took place in nearby Aurora during last year’s Laskiainen. We met some funny people and enjoyed many laughs as we explored the unique traditions of Laskiainen.

You can see the flyer below. Head on up to Palo if you’re looking for some Laskiainen fun this weekend!

The event flyer for the 2017 Laskiainen Finnish Sliding Festival in Palo, Minnesota.

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