Finnish Independence Day celebrated

The Kivajat Finnish Folk Dance troupe, now in its 20th year, performed at the Finnish Independence Day celebration on Wednesday, with several dances representing Finnish culture from across the country, with some dances being Swedish, others being Finnish, and still others from eastern Finland that reflected a strong Russian influence. Finland declared its independence from Russia on Dec. 6, 1917. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo)

HANCOCK — Finnish Independence Day was observed at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Wednesday afternoon. The one-hour event included the singing of Maamme, Finland’s National Anthem, followed by opening remarks from David Maki, FAHC director and a dance performance by the Kivajat Finnish Folk Dancers, directed by Upper Peninsula native, Kay Seppala.

“This is something that the Copper Country has been doing every year since Finland became independent. Research has found that there have been seemingly no interruptions. Wars didn’t stop the event, COVID didn’t stop the event. It seems nothing can stop the Copper Country from remembering their roots.”

Maki went on to say that despite the season of great change at the FAHC, its staff is very glad to be able to continue this tradition, as it is now operating under the administration of the Finlandia Foundation National.

“I hope you all noticed — what I hope you noticed — that being no change at all,” Maki said during his keynote address. The FAHC, he continued, is going to keep doing what it is doing, to the best of the staff’s abilities.

“And, we’re going to keep doing for you and because of you,”, said Maki.

During the observation, Maki also announced the 2024 Hankookin Heikki, chosen by the city of Hancock’s Finnish Theme Committee.

“If you think about the criteria behind the honor,” he told the audience, “perhaps this year’s designee might be a bit obvious.”

Hankookin Heikki is a person or group who is acknowledged, recognized, celebrated for going the extra miles and making extraordinary efforts to preserve and promote Finnish heritage, in the Copper Country and beyond.

“The list of folks who’ve been honored with this recognition is likely and very-well deserving,” he continued. “So, I think it may be no surprise when I tell you that the 2024 Hankookin Heikki recipient is the Board of the Finlandia Foundation National.”

Maki said they did everything they could quickly, efficiently and thoroughly to ensure that the FAHC is here today, will be here tomorrow, will be here for Heikinpaiva, and will be well into the future.

“They are a very deserving group,” he said. “I think they fit the criteria for Hankookin Heikki perfectly, and word on the street is that at least one member of that organization will be here to put on the famous crown, wave the famous scepter and wear the — surprisingly warm — robe and be part of the Heikinpaivafestivities on January 27.”


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