The event is broadcast live on TV, and it seems, provides compelling viewing for many Finns.
I figured I needed to understand what this was about, so last Tuesday, at 7pm, I sat down in front of the TV, and watched. To be honest, what I saw was only mildly more exciting that Andy Warhol's movie "Sleep".
The setting was a reception room in the palace, with a red carpet laid from an open door on one side of the room, to an open door on the other side of the room. About half-way down that runway, and slightly to the side, stood Finland's president Tarja Halonen and her husband, err, Mr Halonen. In the background, a small chamber orchestra played what sounded like funeral music, or possibly the score from a horror movie.
Then came the action: 2000 guests walked in turn through the first door, shook hands with Mrs Halonen and hubby, posed briefing in front of the cameras, and walked through the other door. Well, when I say 2000 guests, I didn't hang around to check. After about 40 minutes, I had lost the plot and given up.
It seems the point of the viewing is to to see what people are wearing. Actually, given that men are all supposed to wear penguin suits, it's really about what the women are wearing.
From the bits that I saw, and the reports in the Finnish press the following day, there were a few stunning dresses, and many, many fashion faux-pas. There were walking tents, walking curtains, walking upholstery, there was even a walking Angry Bird (worn by the wife of the characters' creator Peter Vesterbacka). Suddenly, the sinister music made sense: it was a reflection of disasters unfolding on the red carpet!
|Mrs Angry Bird|
The Finns take this event so seriously that, incredibly, the Twitter hashtag #linnanjuhlat ended up trending WORLDWIDE for a short while during the broadcast, making the party the 4th most talked about subject on the microblogging site.
From my point of view, I now feel I've seen all I need to see of the linnan juhlat, and will probably be giving it a miss next year. Unless I get a personal invitation from the president, of course.