In this minisode, Mark takes us further than we’ve ever been before, in a story that’s out of this world! From Houston, Texas, in 1968, we tell the story of the USA’s space programme and how Christmas came to be the backdrop to the first voyage by humans around the moon. Often overshadowed by Apollo 11’s Moon Landing a few months later, Apollo 8 laid vital foundations, and took place during the festive season, watched by millions of families around the world.
In addition to our theme music by the talented Thomas O’Boyle, this episode featured a lot of music and sound effects, graciously made available for free by contributors at FreeSound.org, and Free Music Archive for use under a Creative Commons license, by attribution.
For the festive season, 80 Days brings you a Christmas special on the most appropriate place we could think of, complete with reindeer and Santa Claus: Lapland, or – as the native Sami people prefer to call it – Sápmi. This is a large region of Fennoscandanavia, north of the Arctic Circle, with its territory spanning parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia (see map). This episode will touch on all areas of Lapland, but will focus primarily on the Finnish and Norwegian sides. The area is named for the indigenous people (and their specific language grouping), who have sparsely inhabited the region for several thousand years.
In Lapland, winter lasts from early October to early May, with temperatures well below freezing throughout the region and up to 60 cm or 23 inches of snow during midwinter. However, in summer the sun does not set on the region for several weeks at a time. Population has declined quite significantly since 1990, and the region is now home to approximately 180,000 people. Residents are spread across a total area of just over 100,000 square kilometers, or 38,000 square miles, and there are as many reindeer here as there are people. Your hosts are Luke Kelly@thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle@markboyle86 and Joe Byrne@anbeirneach, in Hong Kong, the UK and Switzerland, respectively. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)
World War II in Scandanavia was a very complicated affair, with various alliances, invasions and small wars. Finland alone had the Winter War, the Continuation War and the Lapland War, all of which had some effects on Sami people, not least the final one, which resulted in the destruction of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. A helpful summary of what happened in the region over the course of WW2 can be found here, while an article about how the war effected the Sami in particular (by Jessica Johnson) may be found here. These conflicts were devastating to the continuity of Sami culture, with many people killed or displaced and settling elsewhere. Notable fighter around this region was sniper Simo Häyhä, who the Russians nicknamed the “White Death” (pictured)
A lot has been written about Lapland’s most famous resident and how he came to be here. Most of it is mysterious and people make some wild guesses (often not true), but here, in no particular order, are a few resources that might be useful about Santa Claus and his village near Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. Who is St. Nicholas (about his early years in Myra); Andrea McDonald’s account of visiting; History of Santa Claus (on the-north-pole.com), Santa Claus and His Works (New York Times piece describing the contributions of artist Thomas Nast to the image of Santa’s snowy abode); Head to Finnish Lapland…(a 2009 article in the Independent, including descriptions of Santa’s village); Checking Out Santa’s Workshop in Lapland (a 1988 article in the LA Times describing visiting Santa in Rovaniemi). For the more cynical, a stuffy article on postmodernism and Finnish tourism policy can be found here (for all the Scrooges out there!).
You can often watch people visiting Santa live (or look back at earlier recordings) at this website, which is wonderfully magic
We hope you have a happy Christmas and a wonderful new year and that you are looking forward to joining us for Season 2 in the coming months. As always, please get in touch if you are enjoying what you are hearing or have anything to share with us!