Finland celebrated its Independence Day yesterday and so did Finnish Americans in the Copper Country. The Finnish American Heritage Center held its annual celebration last night, presenting song and dance along with authentic apparel.
“We were very pleased to have a bunch of people come out despite Mother Nature’s best efforts to keep people wanting to stay home, to come out and enjoy a bit of Finnish culture, both past, present, and in some ways, future,” said David Maki of the Finnish American Heritage Center.
The nation of Finland joined the free world on December 6th of 1917, making this its 101st anniversary of the event. “We had some dance performances, some wonderful singing and a keynote address from a woman who is a Canadian citizen, but married an American, and spent a year in Finland and she shared her thoughts about that and she had the audience enthralled,” Maki said.
Nearly 100 people were in attendance. Folks enjoyed a one hour program containing traditional music, memoirs of a Hancock resident who recently spent some time in the homeland and described a very desirable quality of life. Maki said, “I have only been to Finland once myself but in that short time that I was there I saw just how much Finns do value the quality of life. They can, like our speaker said tonight, appreciate the little things, appreciate the simple things, and they realize that they can make the best of each day, and they can enjoy it because of that.”
The celebration also featured a choreographed presentation by the Kivajat dancers who will soon be visiting the old country as well. “We’re always proud that our school is one that has Finnish roots and those roots are getting deeper day by day as we expand in the 21st century,” said Maki. Afterwards folks enjoyed a Finnish buffet and beverages.
Maki said, “At the Heritage Center, the next big event is the Heikinpäivä Festival. We did announce tonight that our Hancookin Heikki is Kevin Manninen. He’s the dean of our university’s International School of Business. He will be presiding over the festival which actually begins in just a few short weeks. For much of January we will be celebrating more Finnish American culture here in Hancock.”