Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Beautiful North (4) Santa and Locusts Part (1) - Lapland

This X’mas, we were part of a locust cloud in Santa’s homeland, warmly welcomed by the cool Finns. Before getting into all that, first a few words and photos on Lapland. 

Santa’s home at Rovaniemi was an elfish shopping mall, kinda cute but not enough to raise goosebumps. Lining up for half an hour with my ten-year-old to take a picture with Father Christmas used up a lot of paternal love, but Santa surprised me. He was a gracious old man, appearing more regal than drunk, and perplexingly committed to being photographed all day with dumb tourists. He greeted us enthusiastically in Chinese: “Ho ho ho! Ni Hao Ma?” His felt slippers were ginormous, approximately three times my size — 130?

Rovaniemi was worth a one-day visit. An hour and a half northward by bus was Levi, where everything, except the food, had a magical air. 


聖誕期間,我和家人在芬蘭北部 Lapland 做了蝗蟲,在冰冷的北極圈內受到當地人熱情招待,頗有感受。在分享蝗蟲經驗前,先來看看芬蘭著名的聖誕村是個甚麼模樣。

聖誕老人在小鎮 Rovaniemi 的家,是個小精靈購物村。跟他老人家拍照留念,除了要付款,還得排隊半小時以上!哎,為了十歲的女兒,我最後也排上了。想不到聖誕老人挺有氣派,不象是街上隨便抓來應節的臨時演員。他對整天跟遊客拍照的單調工作,似乎十分投入。臉上掛著招牌鬍子,腳下穿了巨大絨鞋的聖誕老人,坐在木椅上,用不錯的中文跟我們打招呼:呵呵呵!你們好嗎?
Levi 的下午/黃昏景色

Beautiful North (4) Santa and Locusts Part (2) - Locusts

While I was in Levi, a South China Morning Post article reported that Chinese tourists in Lapland have increased dramatically in the past few years. The writer somehow linked the surge to growth of Christianity in China, which was “expected to become the largest Christian country within 15 years,” according to some Professor Yang (a Chinese name! He must know!) of Purdue University, Indiana. “As more and more people become Christians, Christmas celebrations will become even more widespread.” Prof Yang evidently didn’t know that in Finland, as in many parts of Europe, Christmas had been a major pagan festival long before Jesus slipped out of his virgin mother. To the largely secular Finns, Joulu, their most important annual festival, has more to do with winter than Christ. Well, it was an SCMP article.

One thing in it was actually true though: There were plenty of Chinese tourists. Since the average Finn couldn’t tell a real Chinese from a Hong Kong counterfeit, I was part of a locust cloud — a term used by some Hongkongers to caricature mainland visitors.


Levi 度假期間,收到友人分享一篇香港南華早報的報導,說 Lapland 近年的中國旅客,有激增之勢。作者的論點奇特。他解釋中國人到Lapland旅遊,是因為國內基督教崛起。他引述美國Purdue 大學楊教授(有中文名的美國教授,當然是中國國情專家啦!)的見解,說越來越多中國人信奉基督教,所以聖誕節日漸風行。他還預測中國會在15年內成為全球最大的基督教國家。楊教授似乎不知道北歐人的 Joulu,在耶穌未從他的處女媽媽體內冒頭前的好幾個世紀,已經是個大節。對宗教觀念淡薄的北歐人來說,Joulu歷史悠久,懷有北方人面對嚴冬的傳統精神。耶穌降生這傳說,是後來的插曲。香港報章重創意,輕事實,所以也見怪不怪。但環顧四周,果然不少黃面孔同胞。一般的芬蘭人分不開正宗炎黃子孫和港產A貨,那我豈不是變了某些港人口中的蝗蟲