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Talkoot (from Finnish: talkoo, almost always used in plural, talkoot) is a Finnish expression for a gathering of friends and neighbors to accomplish a task, called a bee or a barn raising in English.

A talkoot is a Finnish custom involving a group of people gathering to work together unpaid, for instance to build or repair something. The word is borrowed into Finland-Swedish as talko (ett talko, talkot, flera talkon alternatively en talko, talkon, flera talkor[1]), but unknown to most Swedes. It is the cultural equivalent of common work in a village community, although adapted to the conditions of Finland, where traditionally most families lived in isolated farms, often miles away from the nearest village.

A talkoot is by definition voluntary, and the work is unpaid. The voluntary nature might be imaginary, due to social pressure, especially in small communities; and one's honor and reputation may be severely damaged if one doesn't show up — or proves to be a poor worker.

The task of the talkoot may be something that is a common concern, i.e. for the good of the group, or it may be to help someone with a task that exceeds his or her own capacity. For instance, elderly neighbors or relatives can need help if their house or garden is damaged by storm, or siblings can agree to arrange a party for a parent's special birthday as a talkoot. One of the most common urban forms is to help friends move. The institution bears considerable similarity to barn raising but is more general in application.

Typically, club houses, landings, churches and parish halls can be repaired through a talkoot, or environmental tasks for the neighborhood are undertaken. The parents of a pre-school may gather to improve the playground, or the tenants of a tenement house may arrange a talkoot to put their garden in order for the summer or winter. The talkoo institution works less well in greater towns and in larger clubs, where only the very most solidarity-minded may show up.

Someone who can't contribute with the actual work may contribute food for the talkoot party, or act as a baby-sitter. When a talkoot is for the benefit of an individual, he or she is the host of the talkoot party, obliged to offer food and drinks according to capacity, sauna after the work is also often expected. Parsimoniousness here may result in a person being persecuted for the rest of his or her life. In "talkoot" undertaken for a club or other joint venture, participants often expect to be fed in similar manner by the club.

See also

  • Barn raising
  • Turkish word imece has "the same" meaning.
  • Estonian word talgud has the same meaning.
  • Norwegian word dugnad has a similar meaning.
  • Hungarian word kaláka has a similar meaning.
  • Cherokee word Gadugi has a similar meaning.
  • Polish word tłoka has a similar meaning.
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