We are excited to welcome our amazing employee Donna to share her delicious soft cardamom cookie recipe with all of us and also the interesting history behind it. These cookies are incredible! Donna has been blessing us with these for years at Christmas time. Thank you Donna for spoiling us with these goodies. I’m sure they are going to be a fast favourite in your Christmas baking.
Take it away, Donna!
Seasonal Christmas celebrations in Finland begin the weekend of the first Sunday in Advent with decorations, community activities, and the baking and eating of traditional Christmas goodies.
On the west coast, in the small town of Jakobstad (Swedish) or Pietarsaari (Finnish), three monumental illuminated symbols of Faith, Hope and Love are hung along the town’s main street, each measuring approximately 3 meters wide and 4 meters high. In the 1850s, candles were used to light the town’s emblems but in 1913 they were replaced by electric lamps. Smaller replicas can be found in thousands of windows throughout the town during the Christmas season.
How did this tradition begin, you may ask? During the 17th century these figures rose to prominence around the Nordic region with sailors painting or carving them on sea chests, and they also became customary as tattoo images. The anchor representing hope, has long been regarded as a sailor’s symbol indicating safe harbour and haven.
Being a maritime town with a long history of ship building and sea faring for hundreds of years, the townsfolk of Jakobstad/Pietarsaari also cherished the symbols because in addition to their Christian meaning, they served as a reminder of the sailors who could not be at home with loved ones over Christmas.
Customarily also, many former residents of Pietarsaari/Jakobstad display Faith, Hope and Love symbols in their new homes to continue the tradition and remind them of Christmas celebrations back in their home town.
How do I remember Jakobstad, a distance of over 7000 km away? One winter day, cookies and the Faith, Hope, Charity symbols came together in my kitchen. I had created a soft cardamom cookie, and decided to adorn them with the three motifs for Christmas.
Although the delicious and thin, crispy piparkakku—gingerbread cookies with cardamom—are a traditional favourite over the holiday season, torporbröd/torparinleipä, a soft cake-like gingerbread cookie with similar flavours enjoyed year-round, were my inspiration.
Since it is customary to serve several varieties of cookies to guests, I made these smaller than the traditional torporbröd to give visitors an opportunity to try a few different ones. In other seasons, cookies with a 7 – 8 cm diameter are delightfully savoured. Even as I write, I find myself wanting a cookie or two with a cup of coffee, but they are safely out of reach in the freezer until Christmas. At least that’s what I am telling myself—for now.