How do you offend a Finn? Very easy, sometimes all you need is Glögi and gingerbread and it all goes horribly wrong!
Many years ago, hubby and I had the bright idea of serving free Glögi, a traditional warm Finnish mulled wine, to members of the local Golf Club. It was meant to be a nice way of bringing some of my Finnish heritage to the local community and it actually ended up becoming a yearly event, some years giving away more than 200 cups of Glögi and gingerbread biscuits in a day. It was so popular that months in advance, people used to ask hubby what day the Glögi was going to be served and it used to even get a mention in the Golf Club’s own newsletter, sent out to over 1000 members.
So picture hubby’s face, when a few years ago, the editor of the newsletter came rushing into hubby’s office with panic written all over his face. “I’ve made a horrible mistake and the newsletter has already been sent out” the editor confessed to husband, his voice filled with fear. Knowing that he must be talking of the mulled wine, hubby looked at him worryingly. “Please don’t tell me you’ve got the date wrong?” hubby asked, already imagining in his head his flustered Finnish wife turning up with 200 cups of Glögi, several boxes of gingerbread and no takers.
“Oh no”, replied the editor, his voice now trembling, “it’s just that I said in the article that your wife is Norwegian!” Husband looked at the editor, hubby’s face now having turned from a worrying one to one filled with pure pity, knowing that this was by far even worse than getting the date wrong. Who cares if people turn up on the wrong day, but to call his Finnish wife Norwegian, that was utterly unforgivable. The two men stared at each other, desperately thinking of a way out of this dangerous situation of having offended a Finnish woman.
“I know” said the editor, “I will write a public apology in the next newsletter”. “Yes, good thinking” hubby nodded eagerly, knowing that this was a good start in trying to calm down his wife. “You do that, and I will talk to her and explain that it was a genuine mistake on your behalf” hubby offered the editor, patting him on the back as the editor seemed still visibly shaken by the gravity of the situation.
And true to his words, in the next newsletter, that was sent to more than 1000 people in Gravesend, the editor made a public apology to me.
Except he hadn’t checked his spelling and it said in big letters:
“PUBIC apology to Finnish lady”
Yep – I had been publically offended twice. I better stay away from Golf Clubs as something always goes wrong!