School fairs in Finland
Even though most schools in Finland are free and financed by the government, Finnish schools have active parent associations that organize different fairs and events to raise funds for the class or for the associations. The fairs are organized together with the collaboration of parents with the aim of collecting money for the benefit of the school and the children.
Anyone with children studying in a particular school or kindergarten can join the school’s parent association. Usually, they would meet several times a year. Some parent associations organize annual school photoshoots.
Funds raised by the parents’ association are used for school trips and excursions, books, toys, or other leisure equipment for children to use during recess, decors for school parties eg. Christmas tree, stipends, and additional funds that the school children and teachers propose.
Myyjäiset/fair is an event very commonly held in Finnish schools, but the timing and the theme may vary. Finnish schools usually organize the fairs twice per year, at Christmas time (joulu-myyjäiset) and in Spring (kevät-myyjäiset). Traditionally, the whole class will go to an organized school trip during the 5th or 6th grade. The kids also go smaller trips in spring or fall. It's important to start raising funds from as early as 1st grade. A class might need to collect up to 10k for everyone to be able to go on a school trip in Finland.
Below are some ideas of how the programs of the myyjäiset are typically organized:
1. Leivonnaisia (home-made baking/pastries) Parents of the children prepare all different kinds of pastries, bread, cakes, biscuits, sweets, buns, pies, and savory, mostly home-made. The wrap papers and packages of all pastries are also presented very nicely by parents to attract more buyers. People are usually generous to buy since they know the importance of the event and where the money will be spent.
2. Kirppis (Sale)
This is another excellent way to not only earn some money but also to be more environment-friendly and to make something useful out of things that are usually disposed of or left lying around with no use. There are all a lot of things which are still in good condition that would benefit other families, in particular, the children. Examples include clothes, toys, CDs, DVDs, books, games, and masks.
3. Arpajaiset (Lottery/Raffle)
This is a popular game among children and adults. People would pay a small amount of money to try their luck and to see what surprise gift they get. The gifts, small or big, are usually things from homes that no one uses anymore, or some gifts bought from shops. Everybody knows that whatever they get is always a win.
4. Herkkukoriarpajaiset (Delicacy basket lottery/raffle)
This is what excited most children because it's the biggest win one can get out of this game of arpajaiset. The basket is prepared nicely with beautiful decorative objects on it, containing lots of delicacies inside.
5. Ruletti (Lottery game with a circle)
Heres 'another exciting game for children as they happily and excitedly turn the 'ruletti' circle and wait where the arrow stops. There are three colors of red, white, and black, where the arrow slides on them. Based on the color, children get a gift from the basket full of different interesting objects, usually suitable to play with or to be used in school.
6. Onginta (Fishing, lucky dip)
This is a game in which children usually love to participate. They try their luck by 'fishing', and then see what prize they caught.
7. Bufetti (Buffet)
People who come to buy the products and to take home with them could also sit and enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee, with a sweet treat or a savory. There's often a lot of pastries made by parents at home, and some ready-bought sweets from the shops.
8. Temppurata (Sport and indoor games)
Sometimes in myyjäiset, there's also a room prepared by the school with different toys and games, where children can play or do some sports activities together with some adults or with other children. Sometimes, one can see some adverts of the gyms and organizers come there to play with children, and let them know about their venue and type of sport which they offer.
All activities during Myyjäiset are joyful and fun for children and adults, but perhaps the more joyful and important aspect is to see how nicely the children, parents, and the school collaborate together to organize some beneficial events in a happy and relaxed atmosphere.