What food will you eat today?

By: haydee

As I recently wrote, my little family visited Finland several times while we lived in Moscow. We also had a Finnish nanny, so I learned a bit of their language and customs.

One thing I learned was that in Sweden and Finland (which adjoins and was once a part of Sweden), everybody eats pea soup for lunch on Thursday. Why? It’s always been that way.

In homes, cafés, schools, camps and the dining halls of the Finnish and Swedish defense forces, pea soup was (and still is, I think) invariably served for lunch on Thursday, followed by an oven pancake with jam.

I asked our nanny why Finns always ate pea soup on Thursday, and her expression betrayed that she thought this an extremely silly question. It’s always been that way, she told me. Since that’s how we explain a lot of the things we do, I didn’t press it.

I read somewhere that they ate the hearty soup and baked pancake for lunch (and a heavier meal in late evening) to prepare for meatless Fridays. But abstaining from meat on Friday was mainly a Catholic practice, while Finland and Sweden have Protestant state religions. Bordering on cold north seas, they eat fish any day of the week.

They are not the only ones to keep to a food schedule. When Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah to mark the beginning of a new year, they eat loaves of challah and sweeten everything with honey. Why?

Challah braided in spirals and circles represents the continuity of life and honey symbolizes hope for a “sweet year.” It’s always been that way.

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