Wife Carrying World Championships
Wife Carrying © Visit Lakeland
In the Wife Carrying World Championships held annually in the town of Sonkajärvi, men carry their wives on their backs over an 820 foot (250m) course comprising obstacles and even a water jump. The winner is awarded his spouse's weight in beer. Several types of carry may be practised, namely piggyback, fireman's carry or Estonian-style, where the wife hangs upside-down with her legs round her husband's shoulders, holding onto his waist.
The idea of the Wife Carrying Competition sounds like a joke and the event is meant to have humorous aspects but it also has deep roots in the region's history: in the late 1800s a brigand called Rosvo-Ronkainen tested his troops by setting a challenging obstacle course for them; the part about carrying a woman seems to be a reference to the common practice by these outlaws of raiding the nearby villages and abducting local women.
These days the women have to be willing! But men keen to participate don't necessarily have to be married, they can use any woman for the race so long as she is over 17 years old and weighs more than 49kg. One of the rules is that all contestants must have fun and there is also a prize for the most entertaining couple. Contestants can be of any nationality.
Venue: Rutakontie 21, Sonkajärvi