In Finnish folklore, all places and things, and also human beings, have a haltija (a genie, guardian spirit) of their own. One such haltija is called etiäinen — an image, doppelgänger or just an impression that goes ahead of a person, doing things the person in question later does. For example, people waiting at home might hear the door close or even see a shadow or a silhouette, only to realize that no one has yet arrived. Etiäinen can also refer to some kind of a feeling that something is going to happen. Sometimes it could, for example, warn of a bad year coming.
One explanation given for the detail of the apparition is that when a person is waiting for someone, their anticipation can magnify everyday sounds, for example of a cat or the wind, and bring to consciousness a vivid recollection of the person. This recollection will tend to produce the feeling that the remembered person is "coming". If no one comes, the "possible etiäinen" is forgotten. The failure of this explanation is that etiäinen is not necessary when you expect someone to come. It more often indicates an unexpected visitor who would otherwise come as a surprise without phone calls or any kind of announcement beforehand.
- Suomalaisten runojen uskonto, Kaarle Krohn. p.165. ISBN 9789525774047
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