Integration genom kultur

Intergration Genom

i Kristinestad

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During 2019-2021, the project Integration through Culture took place. The purpose of theproject was to work together in order to create a flourishing multicultural climate inSydösterbotten, a sub-region located in the southern part of Ostrobothnia.

The project owner was Lappfjärds Folkhögskola, which is maintained by the town of Kristinestad. In addition to these two, several partners have been involved in the project. The funding was provided by Svenska Kulturfonden and Aktion Österbotten with Leader funding.

The website you are now visiting is a final outcome of the project. It contains information that will give you an idea of the culture of Sydösterbotten. The website covers both common matters and such that can be considered part of the, still significant, cultural heritage of the past.

By reading, listening, and enjoying the content created in the project, we hope that you will find pleasure and inspiration. Understanding and knowledge about each other’s cultures is in fact a fundamental part of integration.

Christmas crosses in Sydösterbotten

One tradition that the people of Sydösterbotten continue to proudly showcase is the tradition of Christmas crosses. Christmas crosses exist in a few different varieties, depending on where you are in Sydösterbotten. The Christmas crosses are skilfully carved from wood and are highly decorative crafts.

These symbols of Christmas are placed roughly at roof height or on flagpoles and have lights of different colours. Small rings made of bark and small tassels made of spruce or juniper are also part of the Christmas crosses.

There are also miniature variants of the crosses, which people usually place in their windows. For people who are unable to erect a full-size Christmas cross, the miniature version is an easy way to decorate their home with something typical from the culture of Sydösterbotten.

"The original purpose of the Christmas cross was to keep evil spirits away. Nowadays,Christmas crosses are set up because it is a tradition, not because people believe in evil orgood spirits."

The Christmas cross tradition

The most known Christmas cross comes from Lappfjärd. However, there is also the cross from Kristinestad, also known as the Wendelin cross, and the cross of the village of Skaftung. Furthermore, there are also Christmas crosses further north, but in these regions the tradition is not as essential. The village of Sideby does not have its own cross, but instead something called the Sideby lanterns. We will get back to them later on.

Raising Christmas crosses should traditionally follow a few important steps. This is how the tradition has been carried out in Lappfjärd:

Firstly, if the household was already in mourning, no Christmas cross would be raised at all.

Secondly, according to the Lappfjärd tradition, the Christmas cross should not be lit beforeChristmas Eve, on the 24th of December.

Thirdly, the Christmas cross should be lit for 20 days until Saint Knut’s day, celebrated on the13th of January. On Shrove Tuesday, in February-March, the cross is taken down.

In the past, the Christmas cross had almost the same significance as a crystal ball – theChristmas cross functioned as an indication of what would happen during the year. It was important that the Christmas cross was directed towards the nearest church, and it was also thought to influence the coming harvest.

Despite these traditional ‘rules’, it is still common for the cross to be raised, lit and taken down at slightly different times.

The Sideby lanterns mentioned earlier in the text, are four coloured glass lanterns. They are, however, less common than the Christmas crosses that are found in every other house in the region.

Also watch!

Making of the Christmas cross

We get an insight into what the Christmas cross course at Lafo is all about and the new Finn Paul builds his own Christmas cross.

Studio recording with the Integration Band

A mixed orchestra – the Integration Band has stepped into the studio to record a classical pop song.

Integration café

Susanne Bodman talks about crafts across cultural borders at Hemslöjdgården in Kristinestad.

The culinary culture in Sydösterbotten

Food is one of the most important components when it comes to culture. It is around the dinner table that we gather to socialise, relax, and enjoy good food – this is also the case in Sydösterbotten.

In this region, the food served on the tables in the past is quite different from what is served today. It is also noticeable that there is a difference between what younger and older generations eat. While younger people eat food influenced by many other cultures, the older generations are very attached to a rather Finnish food culture.

Among the older generations, three ingredients can be seen as the basis of many dishes: meat, potatoes and fish. An old dish that used to be served at fancy parties, such as weddings, is klimpsoppa. It is a meat soup with dumplings made from milk, eggs, and wheat flour, and it is today seen as quite a normal dish. Overall, soup is still a very common dish enjoyed in many homes. Fish soup, meat soup, and pea soup are some examples.

In spring, during Easter, sweets and chocolates are once again a central theme. Dressed-up children go from house to house asking for sweets. During Easter, it is also common to eat boiled eggs.

Finland is often used as a good example when it comes to food served in schools. Children are given a hot lunch that provides nutrition and energy during the school day.

In Kristinestad, a large amount of potatoes are grown. In the same way as rice is eaten in many parts of the world, potatoes are eaten in Finland. The potatoes are prepared in different ways – in the oven, in the pot, or in the frying pan. In early summer, many people eat the long-awaited new potatoes. It is common to add some melted butter and chives when eating these potatoes.

"Rye bread is also a bread that has been baked in many homes for hundreds of years. Ryebread is common in the Finnish cuisine, and the shape of the bread is often round with a holein the middle."

Coffee also has an important place in many homes in Sydösterbotten. When visiting each other, coffee, buns, and biscuits are often offered. For many, coffee is the moment when they really sit down, catch up and socialise.

The old food culture may be slowly disappearing or being replaced. Despite this, there are still many people who, at least once a year, want to eat a dish that might remind them of their childhood or older relatives. However, it is often the older traditional dishes that are still served at major events and celebrations.

Some dishes are strongly associated with seasons and holidays. Christmas is perhaps the holiday that revolves most around food. Rice pudding, gingerbread, ‘julstjärna’ (a star-shaped pastry traditionally with prune jam in the middle), lutefisk, meatballs, potatoes, and fish of different kinds are eaten during this time. Christmas is also the time for sweets, as shops are filled with Christmas-themed sweets and chocolates.

Also watch!

Rye bread baking

Berit Holmlund demonstrates how to bake traditional rye bread from Sydösterbotten at Vänstugan Primula in Kristinestad.

Integration band

Merit, Destiny and Isac from the Integration Band rehearse for a studio recording at Medborgarinstitutet in Kristinestad.


Culture talk: Pakistan. Lukas Djupsjöbacka and Amir Mehmood delve into Pakistani culture.

Traditions and celebrations

In Sydösterbotten, many old traditions have been preserved. Although many of these traditions have been reshaped over many decades or sometimes even hundreds of years, they are still celebrated in the region.

One Nordic celebration and tradition that is of course celebrated in Sydösterbotten is Midsummer. It is a holiday that revolves around the food eaten, as for example potatoes are very tasty and an especially popular dish at this time of year. Fish cooked in various ways is also common.

In late summer, crayfish parties are common. Eating crayfish is not a tradition that only occurs here but is common throughout the entire Swedish-speaking part of Finland. It is typically a party with good company, and in addition to crayfish, various pies are often served


When summer turns to autumn, people in Sydösterbotten celebrate the end of summer, which is referred to as the ‘end of summer cottage season’ (Swedish: villaavslutning). It is an Ostrobothnian tradition, celebrated during a weekend at the end of August. The tradition includes decorating your home or summer cottage with various lanterns and candles, setting off fireworks, and enjoying good food together with friends and family. For many, summer isan important time of year when people enjoy time off, nature, and a time when worries seem to be temporarily forgotten. That is why this celebration is also an important tradition – to say a proper farewell to summer.

Christmas is also a very celebrated tradition in Sydösterbotten. Read more about some of the distinctive features of Christmas celebrations in the region under the heading ‘Christmas cross’. Another festival that occurs during Christmas time is Lucia. It is a Nordic tradition that is celebrated on the 13th of December, where the purpose is to spread light at a time when it is very dark in the Nordic countries. Singing and music are an important part of the Christmas celebrations, and for the Lucia tradition people sing specific songs connected solely to the tradition.

Before school children go on Christmas holiday, schools usually organise Christmas parties. During these parties, it is a tradition to dance specific Christmas dances done in a large ring.The movements are often playful, and children tend to like the speed and lightness of the movements.

"One of the traditions that have survived is the folk costume. People of Sydösterbotten cherish their folk costumes, even though they are used very rarely today. "

Folk costume and historical weddings

There are many different types of folk costumes – they vary in appearance between different villages and depending on the purpose for which they are intended. Folk costumes are available for both men and women.

It is considered a ceremonial costume and can be worn at major celebrations such as thePresidential Independence Ball or at annual parties. It is a craft made with great care, a skill that only a few people possess today. Therefore, many people from Sydösterbotten have also inherited their folk costumes from older relatives.

When the folk costume was still used more commonly, it was a natural garment to wear for occasions with music and dance. This is what it looked like when different cultures came together to the tones of folk music during the project Integration through Culture.

In the past, dancing and folk costumes were common, especially during weddings inLappfjärd. These weddings were called silver weddings and it was always a very big event.Something similar to these silver weddings is not celebrated today, even though it is common to get married and have weddings. The most recent silver weddings have been organised to commemorate the ceremonies and the tradition itself.

Also watch!

Music play school

Lukas Djupsjöbacka runs music play school for local residents and new Finns.

Final video

Summarizing the project Integration through Culture.

Folk music #1

A dialogue between two folk musicians. Kenneth Nordman from Tjöck and Francis Oyeyiola from Ghana talk about similarities and differences in folk music. The episode is in English. Episode 1/3.

Cultural encounters

For a long time, socialising and craftmanship have gone hand in hand. Crafting is often done together with others, and this is also the case in Sydösterbotten.

"For many people, including young people, knitting or crocheting is a way of relaxing and expressing creativity."

The Finnish phenomenon of ‘talko’ is when people come together as a group to develop something in their local community. Talko is done in your free time, and you provide free labour. The organiser of talko is usually an association or organisation and the tasks can vary from cleaning, building, renovating, or preparing for an event.

In Sydösterbotten, there are many associations that rely on what is called ‘talko power’. At the same time as working, it is a time for socialising and feeling that you are doing something important. In exchange for the work, drinks and food/snacks are offered.

Also watch!

From Afghanistan to Lappfjärd and from Lappfjärd to the rest of the world

What was it like to come from Afghanistan to Finland in the early 2000s? And what happened afterwards? Tayebeh Sedighi tells us about her own experiences and journey.

Drama workshop

“It’s joyful and collaborative learning” – Sarah Bergkulla from Wasa Teater run a drama workshop.

The Basement Band

Bosnian culture has reached Närpes and the Basement Band is trying out traditional pop music.

Free time

Many parents want to give their children the experience and opportunity to have a hobby.Among children in Sydösterbotten, football, gymnastics, horse riding, ice hockey, athletics, and music are common leisure activities. Many continue with the hobby into adulthood, but then it is common to instead become a leader/coach or help the development of the activity in some other way. This is often done on a ‘talko’ basis, which is a Finnish mindset where people do things for free to develop their local area or community.

‍Dance is a cultural form that can be found all over the world. Dance comes in a few differentforms in Sydösterbotten.


A folk dance strongly associated with Sydösterbotten is the so-called minuet. The dance exists in various Ostrobothnian variants and is said to have originated in the French royal court. Inaddition to the minuet, there are many other dances that belong to what is known as folk dance. The folk dances are often complemented by for example music and costumes.

Dancing events are organised in several places in Ostrobothnia and Sydösterbotten, and they are mainly organised for the older generations. These events peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, attracting people from places far away in Finland. Since then, the interest in these events have declined among the younger generations, but the events are still organised on a smaller scale.

Today, dance is seen as an important way of exercising and many children and adults enjoy dancing as a hobby. The dance styles are many and varies from everything from competitive to group, of which many are influenced by other cultures.

In the Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia, people listen a lot to the music coming from Sweden.The common language has resulted in a strong connection and applies to both young and old people. At Lappfjärds Folkhögskola you can study music from several perspectives – whether it is standing at the microphone and using the instruments or sitting in the studio as a sound technician.

Already for a young child, music is an important part of life. Singing and being surrounded by music are important elements already in kindergarten and later in school. Through song and music, children learn about the world in a playful way. It is common to sing specific songs especially made for children. These have specific movements made for the playful melodies and they have been sung for many decades.


Here you can find six podcasts discussing the topics of culture and integration in Swedish,Finnish and English.

Folk music #1

A dialogue between two folk musicians. Kenneth Nordman from Tjöck and Francis Oyeyiola from Ghana talk about similarities and differences in folk music. The episode is in English. Episode 1/3.

Folk music #2

A dialogue between two folk musicians. Kenneth Nordman from Tjöck and Francis Oyeyiola from Ghana talk about similarities and differences in folk music. The episode is in English. Episode 2/3.

Folk music #3

A dialogue between two folk musicians. Kenneth Nordman from Tjöck and Francis Oyeyiola from Ghana talk about similarities and differences in folk music. The episode is in English. Episode 3/3.

Afghanistan and Tajikistan

Culture talk: Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Lukas Djupsjöbacka discusses Afghan and Tajik culture with Jafari, Hussein & Mustafa. The episode is in Finnish.


Culture talk: Bosnia. Lukas Djupsjöbacka and Senada Arnautovic discuss Bosnian culture over a cup of coffee.


Culture talk: Pakistan. Lukas Djupsjöbacka and Amir Mehmood delve into Pakistani culture.


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