Finnish Community Celebrates Kalevala Day |

Finnish Community Celebrates Kalevala Day

Emily Ness
Updated: February 23, 2020 10:24 PM

The Finnish community came together to celebrate Kalevala Day Sunday. The Kalevala is the book through which Finnish language stems.

“It is from the Kalevala that Fins started to write down words in Finnish,” Jean Luoma Miller, Committee Member, Ladies of Kaleva Tupa said. “The Kalevala was the beginning of the Finnish language.”

Each year, Finnish communities across the globe celebrate the Kalevala and its impact, including the Finnish community in Duluth.

“This section of Duluth to Michigan through Wisconsin—the northern area is probably the most populated with Fins in the United States,” Luoma Miller said.

At the celebration, Finnish heritage was upheld through authentic food, art and music.

“The Finnish heritage and the traditions we have is so much a part of my life and it is very important to me. It's so exciting to be around other people that have that same feeling. Finnish people get very passionate about their heritage,” Arlene Putikka Tucker, Committee Member, Ladies of Kaleva Tupa said.

A presentation on song's role in Finnish communication prior to the Kalevala was also given by Thomas DuBois, professor of Scandinavian studies, Folklore and Religious studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. During his presentation, DuBois explained that songs were used to heal, give instructions and release emotions.

“There was a lot of putting into songs sorrow and anxiety in a culture that didn't like to talk about its feelings. There's an old song that says, when you're unhappy, go tell a tree,” DuBois said. “There's songs that were used that were in a way to express feelings and it was the song that was unhappy, not you.”

Many guests present at the celebration were the sons and daughters of first and second generation immigrants.

"I was born and raised here in Minnesota, but my mom was born in Finland so we grew up speaking Finnish," Putikka Tucker said.

“My grandpa and grandma immigrated here in the early 1900’s,” Arnold Heikkila, Committee Member of Minnesota Finnish Historical Society said. “They usually came separately. The grandpa would come first and find the spot and usually build a barn first for the animals that they had and then worry about the house later, but the grandma and if there were children would usually come later on and it would usually take them three months to get here from Finland by boat.”

Like the book through which their language stems, many guests said they would like to keep the Finnish language alive

“I am 70 and I am still trying to learn the language. It's not an easy language to learn, but luckily we have some native speakers who are here and we try to learn from them,” Luoma Miller said.

"I can say some of the common words like maito is milk, voi is butter," Heikkila said.

Many also said that the celebration unites Fins around the world.

"I think it’s a wonderful thing to be here and enjoy the fellowship and the program as it develops," Heikkila said.


Emily Ness

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