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Lumberjack "Jätkä"


In spoken Finnish the loggers were often called “jätkä”, which can be translated into lumberjack.

There is an estimation that half of the forest work labour came to Lapland from other parts of Finland. Some of them worked in logging sites during autumn and winter and went back home at spring. Some of them stayed in Lapland, because they didn't have a home left behind. These people worked in log floating during summer. There were also local labour. Forest work offered extra incomes to farmers, but there were also lots of people without any work or property. For them forest work was especially important.

The logging was usually made by teams. The team had a horseman who transported the logs and two or three cutters, who cut the trees down. At first the wage was payed to the horseman who shared it with his team. Later the wage was payed personally.

Working on logging sites was extremely hard. Days were long and weather conditions varied. The logging was done in wintertime because the transportation was easier on snow.

Forest work was periodic and there where times of unemployment. Especially spring time before the floating season was difficult for many lumberjacks. That time was called “luppoaika” (“luppo time”) which refers to lack of proper food. “Luppo” is a type of lichen which reindeer eat. Today the phrase “luppoaika” is used as a synonym of free time.

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