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Visit Rovaniemi – The Official Hometown of Santa Claus®

August 5, 2020 Visit Europe No Comments Email Email

Mrs. Irene Kangasniemi, Artisan, Hornwork

“Simple life is rich life”, states Irene Kangasniemi. Living in a log house the middle of the woods, Irene and Ari Kangasniemi are the perfect example presenting the traditional sustainable Lappish way of life. Irene describes the surrounding nature to be her supermarket, her living room as well as her church. It is obvious, that Irene is happiest at nature.

“I believe that happiness is all about the smallest things in everyday life. For me, it’s preparing a meal from the catch that I got while ice fishing 200 meters away from our home. Watching the birds and squirrels that are visiting our bird feeder. Finding out footprints of different animals on the snow. Pure air to breathe. My baking oven, which I warm up every day in winter.” Could you even imagine a life this good?

Irene’s and Ari’s main goal is to live in harmony with nature. Valuating nature has been a lifestyle for both since they were kids. Irene’s parents and grandparents have thought her that Mother Nature is always the strongest and one should never try to compete with it. The couple wants to emphasize, how important it is to preserve nature also for future generations.

In addition to Irene’s special relationship with nature, she mentions the healthcare system, safety, equality, culture of taking care of each other, as well as trust towards the policymakers, to have a big impact on Finns’ happiness – especially during the crisis. During the time of social distancing, she also felt privileged to live in Lapland, where there is plenty of space to be isolated.

“I believe happiest is the kind of person, who doesn’t worry about the things he lacks – but instead, is happy for what he has. For me, the biggest reason for happiness is the love towards handicrafts.”

As artisans, Irene, and Ari are well-known for using natural materials for a large variety of utensils and decorative items. At their workshop, the couple manufactures e.g. Lappish knives, wooden drums, chandeliers, traditional “kuksas” (wooden cups), and different kinds of jewelry. Mainly, Irene and Ari prefer to use renewable natural materials in their handicrafts: reindeer antler and leather, bark, silver pine as well as burl.

In addition to making handicrafts out of natural materials, Irene is passionate about foraging and preparing food. Irene picks wild berries and mushrooms herself, while Ari goes fishing and relatives hunt wild game.

Talking about happiness – is there something we could learn from this local lady?

“People should learn to endure silence. I believe the world would be a better place, once people would just realize that they don’t need that much to get along. You should calm down, listen to yourself – and instead of competing with nature, try to live in harmony with it. Nature can and will teach us – if we only stop and listen to it.”

Irene Kangasniemi
Age: 60 years
Family: Husband Ari
Education: Master of Education, Master of Arts, handicraft instructor
Hobbies: Reading (especially history and biographies), music
Favorite place in Rovaniemi: Lapinvaara (the fell about 500 meters away from Irene’s home)

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