An English Christmas

People November 26th 2012

An English Christmas


In 2008, Finnish-British illustrator and graphic designer Sanna Annukka sought inspiration in the Finnish national epic Kalevala as she worked on her first pattern collection for Marimekko. Now she has designed a new collection that draws on Finnish traditions and landscapes. Sanna talks about her latest artwork for Marimekko and shares her thoughts about Christmas.


New collection

My Finnish heritage is a huge influence on my artwork. The new Christmas collection celebrates the many magnificent qualities I hold dear in my homeland – from the serene fells of the far north to old harbour villages on the southern coast and the enchanted archipelago in the southwest of the country. I also admire Finnish architecture and design – its unique character and history.

The new collection features three fabric prints. My favourite is Kultakero because it evokes a very personal memory. It was on a snow shoe walk up on the fells and through the pine forests of Pyhä-Luosto National Park in Lapland that I decided this landscape must become a Marimekko pattern. Kultakero is also a wonderful way to bring a massive expanse of Finnish landscape into your home. 

Raanu is a playful pattern based on a traditional Finnish wall tapestry called raanu. Many of my Finnish relatives have traditional raanu wall hangings, and I have two in my home in England.

I wanted to use the horizontal stripes, a classic feature of a traditional raanu, and fill it with a fun pattern creating a modern interpretation of a traditional handicraft.

Completing the collection is Vanhakaupunki. It celebrates the charming wooden architecture found in the 'old town' parts of many Finnish cities and the sleepy harbour villages along the southern coast of Finland and the vast archipelago between Finland and Sweden.

The tea towel set inspired by Raanu and Vanhakaupunki is probably my favourite gift tip for the holidays. I also like the playful Hauki apron and oven glove. They are the perfect gift for men who love cooking, because the colourway is quite masculine. My mother will want to get at least one of every item from the collection. There will be lots of gifts under the tree for her this Christmas!


My Christmas

Christmas means having quality time with the ones I love. I usually spend my Christmases in different places. Sometimes I hire a cottage in the Lake District, a really wonderful part of England with big mountains and massive lakes. Lapland, of course, is another favourite Christmas destination.

But I do like to spend every other Christmas at home, so I can celebrate the holidays with my one-eyed cat, Bramble. I always feel sad whenever he is left behind. This year Christmas will be at home! It will be lovely to have a quiet Christmas with just my fiancé and Bramble. We’ll prepare a Finnish feast, go on bike rides to work off all the food we'll be eating and then relax in the evenings watching films by the log fire! And Santa Claus can bring me the best gift of all: happiness and good health for everybody.

Many of my childhood Christmases were spent in England. We would celebrate Christmas Eve with lovely Finnish Christmas foods and traditions, while Christmas Day was celebrated in the English way. We would always open our gifts on Christmas Day and afterwards prepare a big roast dinner. The house would be filled with mouth watering aromas. 

My favourite Christmas food is homemade lanttulaatikko or Finnish turnip casserole. I eat so much of the stuff at Christmas that it usually takes a year to recover before my craving for tasty casserole starts all over again. When it comes to Christmas decorations, I love traditional colours like red, green and gold. And I always hang a himmeli – a traditional Finnish straw decoration – from the ceiling. The best part is the smell of pine needles mixed with the sweet scent of oranges and cloves.

My fondest Christmas memories come from a family Christmas spent in Lapland about six years ago. We stayed in a beautiful log cabin. What made this Christmas so special was that I could spend it with my niece and nephew. Christmases are definitely more magical with kids around. It was on Christmas Eve after a snowy walk that we returned to the cabin to discover Santa had been there. He had left a sea of gifts under the Christmas tree. We even found little foot prints by the fireplace – probably made by a tonttu or gnome in English. It was magical for the children, who were amazed. On the same trip I saw the Aurora Borealis for the first time. It was a perfect Christmas.

In England, carol singing used to be a popular Christmas tradition. Even today I sometimes open the door to a whole group of adults and children singing Christmas carols. It’s always a lovely surprise. Other traditions include midnight church services on Christmas Eve and the Queen’s Christmas Message broadcast on Christmas Day.

Traditional English Christmas foods include roast turkey, Yorkshire pudding, Brussels sprouts, mince pies with a rich fruit filling of raisins, mixed peel and spices, and Christmas pudding.  The pudding is drenched in brandy before it is flambéed and served with cream or brandy butter.

Boxing Day is a popular day for visiting country pubs. England has a pub culture unlike any other country in the world. We are lucky to have some incredibly beautiful and ancient pubs with low ceilings and roaring fires, serving wonderful ales and wines and tasty food.


Take a closer look at Marimekko's interior decoration collection here