A person in a ghost-sheet costume near a pile of sticks

When Ghosts Go To Sauna: Kekri in Finland

As Halloween approaches, Canadians across the country are putting up decorations, brushing off their costumes, and watching plenty of scary movies. In Finland, however, this time of the year looks a little different. While Halloween has migrated across the ocean, Finland celebrates the turn of the seasons with Kekri. We thought it’d be fun to introduce you to the holiday, explain how it’s celebrated, and invite you to join us for a small taste of Finnish folklore.

What is Kekri?

Kekri is a traditional festival that originated as a way to celebrate the end of the harvest season. It used to be one of the biggest festivals of the entire year, although, in modern-day Finland, its importance has slightly diminished. During traditional Kekri, Finnish people would dress nicely, visit friends and relatives, celebrate with bonfires, and, of course, would invite their dead to join in the celebration.

Today, Kekri is usually celebrated on the first Saturday that falls after the 30th of October. It’s still a time of celebration, but primarily, its focus is to remember and honor the dead.

Ghosts and Sauna

If you’ve read our blog before, you already know that sauna is so deeply entrenched in Finnish culture that it’s included in just about everything, and Kekri is no exception. A normal part of hosting guests in Finland is to offer them a session in the sauna, and that courtesy is also extended to the souls of the departed on Kekri. The sauna will be laid out with everything necessary – a towel, perhaps a birch branch, a warm stove, and a bucket of water – and left alone for the souls to enjoy.

A Celebration of Life and Death

Today, Kekri celebrations are more about enjoying good food, good company, music, dancing, remembering the deceased, and taking a break from the regular rhythm of working. Modern festivals highlight the folklore of the original celebration while also adapting to modern traditions. Of course, in some circumstances, it is the modern tradition that borrows from Kekri. One such example is kitupiikki lanterns.

Kitupiikki (a word which directly translates to “cheapskate”) lanterns are the forerunners of jack o’ lanterns, but with a noticeable change: kitupiikki lanterns are carved from turnips, not pumpkins. They were small and tended to not burn very brightly, which is part of how they got their name – or at least, that’s what the legends say.

A Taste of Finland at a Nordic Spa

At Vettä Nordic Spa, we’ve taken a similar approach to Finnish culture by blending and honoring the traditions of the past with modern amenities and tastes. You’ll be able to experience a true Finnish sauna, relax in the solarium, stroll through a natural hardwood forest, and melt your worries away on the massage vista – all without going more than twenty minutes away from Barrie. We’re so excited to share our vision with you, and we hope to be the place where you can relax, unwind, and recenter.

For more information on our Nordic spa, such as our sauna experience, massage vista, and on-site restaurant, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

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In an effort to being fully transparent, please read the following before booking:

We are pleased to offer you introductory pricing as we open our booking software at a lower capacity limit to give us the ability to adapt to our procedures and focus on giving you the best experience.

During this introductory window, we will not be opening the restaurant, however the bistro will be in full operation. There may be a few finishing touches left to do around Vettä and we ask for your understanding ahead of time. We are still hard at work to complete every last detail and plan to be in full swing by spring of 2022.

Until then, we welcome you to come and experience our Massage, Nordic Spa and Bistro. We thank you for helping us to shape Vettä into one of Ontario’s top destinations!

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