Whoever you are,  you have an “ethnicity.”   That is,  you have an ethnic background – and one you should be proud of!   I have two,  Swedish and Finnish,  and this is an international celebration of the Finnish side –   the great and wonderfully fun FinnFest 2013!

Copper mines notwithstanding,  as in the last posting,  our main reason for going to the Far Far Far North was to attend this year’s FinnFest.


It’s not always held in this country,    so we decided we’d better take advantage of this year’s near-location.   That’s the Great Lakes in the photo, and that white star is where we had to go.


2  lovely town

Here is an aerial view from one of our brochures showing the beautiful (and very hilly! )  little cities of Houghton and Hancock, home of Michigan Tech University –  home to scholars and architects and engineers that do their work all over the world.     And home to many Finnish immigrants, who worked like second-class citizens in the mines and the forests,  saved their money to buy their own homes, and learning English so they could pass the citizenship test.   Their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren place a very high value on education.   In this generation,  many Finns are now professionals of all kinds.

Remember:  it was the Finns who gave us Nokia — and all that followed!

Down on ground level . . .

3   finn dress everywhere. . . traditional Finnish dress was everywhere.  These dancers were in red and yellow,  but there were many shades of blue and green as well –  and most weren’t dancing!

Signs were bilingual,  Finn and English, because there were many people from Finland.    Son and I got the local newspaper that first day from our hotel:

SAMSUNGMy Grandma taught me how to count in Finn, a few Finnish words, and some Finnish songs,  but I couldn’t make my way through the first page of that newspaper.   The Finnish language is almost one of a kind, difficult to learn and impossible (!)  to spell.   Its roots are Ugaritic, shared only by some Estonian and by ancient Hungarian.   That’s it.   You either know it or you don’t.    It’s quite musical.   One rule of pronunciation is that every word is accented on the first syllable, but the words are many syllables long.

We were given a lovely “Program.”   123 pages.

5   program cover

It looked familiar.   Both of my children looked like that:  white hair,   bright blue eyes, pink cheeks.   Me too.   Later we all darken a bit, but Finnish children are quite remarkable looking.

The Program gave us the schedules for each day.   We had arrived right in the middle of the lecture program.  For the price of the day’s admission we could attend any of the lectures we wanted to.

6  serious lecturesThe lectures were very good,  serious and informative matters in Finnish history, Finnish health issues,   Finnish literature,  all kinds of Finnish issues, including their newly developed methods of education which has placed them at the TOP of the world’s educational achievement.   (You could Google  “Finland’s educational system” to see how they did that.)     Son and I heard different lectures but we agreed that any one of them would be worth the price of the day’s admission!

The Finns have in  the past endured Viking rulers,  Swedish rulers,  Russian rulers,  Soviet rulers,  and only very, very recently did they become an independent country of their own.     They are socialist now, but I have a feeling they will overcome that too.

Ethnic identity.   Ethnic pride.   Ethnic strength.

There was a Tori,  a giant Finnish marketplace,  displaying and offering all this Finnish ethnicity.   We spent a lot of time there!   And not a little money.    Hundreds of vendors,  I think.

7  Tori

There  was a parade at the end of the day – a good old-fashioned local parade with a mixture of small city pride (fire engines and local politicians and school marching bands)  and Finnish pride (saunas,  folk dancing…and a Finnish “politician,”  their current Secretary of State!)

8   Parade start

It began at 7:00,  just when Son and I finally found a place to eat.   We had just sat down in the restaurant when the parade began to go by – so we took turns jumping up from our table and running outside to take pictures!    (Of course, we all thought we missed the best ones when it was our turn inside.)

I met a lovely lady from Finland at the restaurant.   She was about my age and looked…somewhat like me.   While we waited for our table we talked and talked and talked….we wished we could be seated at nearby tables so we could continue,  but it was not to be.   Just a good memory now.

9   bonfire

It was Midsummer that night,  so thousands of people went out to the shore of Lake Superior to light the bonfire and…do whatever people do to celebrate Midsummer.     Pagan holidays are with us still!

Son and I missed the bonfire because we had to head further north for the copper mines, the historic fort, a search for an old campsite….through dark and eerie isolated fog-filled roads…..deeper into the northern forest.

Explore posts in the same categories: Finnish heritage, Travel

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One Comment on “ETHNICITY”

  1. I’m jealous … I’m sure it was a great event, aside from the weather!
    Blonde Finnish kids … One of my fav pix is my Mom smiling at some cute little “Finnish grand kids” … Remarking about the little Finnlanders! Quite a few younger generation kids in our family have married dark-haired spouses … I have been keeping track of how many of the babies look like “little Finnlanders” ….

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