My dad's side of the family is 100% Finnish. So as far as culture goes, my American upbringing was influenced most by that origin. I had been reminiscing, jotting down thoughts on this before St. Urho's Day came along last week. (Yes, St. Urho's Day is a real Minnesota Finn thing, it was fun to read the responses to it!)
Here are five facts from the Finnish origins that rubbed off on my Minnesotan upbringing:
1. Hanging in our house growing up, there was a weaving (I believe
my dad made it as a child) of the Finnish flag and the word Suomi. Its one of my fondest
family treasures in my parents' house to this day.
*Two important Finnish terms to know:
Suomi: A Finnish word that refers to Finland or the Finnish language.
Sisu: A Finnish term loosely translated as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. The literal meaning is equivalent in English to "having guts." However sisu is defined by a long-term element in it; it is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain an action against the odds.
The Finnish house my great grandpa was born in (1893):
2. Northern Minnesota is said to be similar in climate & landscape to Finland. There is a town near Lake Superior's north shore named Finland, MN. And when my
great grandpa came to the U.S. in the early 1900's, (one of two who did so) he settled near a community called Suomi, named so because the people who settled here were almost all Finnish and the area reminded them of the homeland. Suomi Hills is one of my favorite Minnesota areas. I passed
3. My grandparents' dog was named Koira. (dog)
As kids we knew other simple Finnish words like kissa (cat) and hyvää päivää (Good day) - Koira would "shake" to this greeting.
4. We ate foods with Finnish names. Mojakka was a stew made often in our home.
Pannukakku was a crepe-like breakfast food that I haven't had since I was a kid.
I should learn to make it. "Oppia ikä kaikki." (To learn through whole life.)
Lily of the Valley is the national flower of Finland - it grows well in Minnesota, too.
Like my shamrock, my lily of the valley descends from my great grandmother's.
5. We had traditional saunas on Saturday evenings.
Boy, do I miss a good sauna. The sound of the water hissing as it hits the rocks. The smell of the steam as it heats the ceiling. The shock of that final cold dipper of water after washing. And the feeling of walking back to the house in the freshest-feeling night air imaginable in my pajamas.
I also have "warm" memories of the sauna at my grandma's house.
We sawed cedar logs several years ago designated to building a sauna of our own.
"Toivossa on hyvä elää." It's good to live in hope!
One more thing: I had a Finnish last name that was often mispronounced or misspelled. :)
Do you have childhood memories, or carry on traditions influenced by an origin or place other than where you live now?