People the world over associate gingerbread cookies and their more elaborate relatives, gingerbread houses, with Christmas. The tradition is also well-entrenched in Finland so national broadcaster Yle launched a contest to see who could design and build the country's finest gingerbread house.
The eventual winner, Saara Valtonen of Kuopio in eastern Finland, spent 30 hours over a three-week period to create a gingerbread replica of the local town hall.
"I've always admired the building and thought that I could make a gingerbread house that looked like it," Valtonen said of her creation, which gathered 699 votes.
Valtonen, a recent graduate of construction engineering, began by taking photos of the building and using them to develop measurements and a pattern.
"Creating a pattern took 10 hours. It was a pretty heavy process." The next step involved cutting and baking the sections of the structure.
The 24-year-old said she had started her project even before Yle announced the competition, but all the same she went down to the wire to get it ready in time.
"So I didn't do quite everything. The chimneys didn't make it."
The sugary town hall reflects many of the details of the brick and mortar version, including a clock tower and different kinds of window frames.
Valtonen said that the dough however, was not home made, because the family does not eat the gingerbread creations. "If we were to eat them, I'd probably make the dough myself. I don't know what to do with this house. We have tried to preserve my previous designs, but the sugar softens with time and it all falls apart."
The master gingerbread house maker said she doesn't yet have any ideas for next Christmas' project, but quipped that it will probably be just as detailed as this year's effort.