Dare to go beyond sauna & sisu

It may be hard to believe but FinnFest 2013 is less than two weeks away. Finnish flags, signs, posters and more are cropping up with increasing frequency as the Keweenaw prepares for the anticipated thousands of visitors coming to partake in all the pageantry.

FinnFest is certainly an opportunity for all of us who call the Copper Country home to put out the welcome mat and show the world why this is such a special place. But it is also an opportunity for all, both residents and guests alike, to learn more about Finland’s culture, history and contribution to the rest of the world.

While most Upper Peninsula residents of Finnish ancestry eagerly embrace their heritage and culture, for far too many the Finnish experience ends with Trenary Toast.

FinnFest is an excellent opportunity to look deeper into the Finnish-American experience, which can go so much further than saunas and sisu.

The contributions by Finns and Finnish-Americans to the worlds of music, art, theatre, literature, architecture and more deserved to be explored and celebrated. The challenge for visitors and residents alike is to look beyond nisu and squeaky cheese and become acquainted with the music of Sibelius, the paintings of Ajseku Gakkeb-Kallela, the architecture of the Saarinens, the films of Aki Kaurismaki, the writing of Aleksis Kivi and so much more.

FinnFest is that opportunity. Workshops, lectures, exhibits and performances will offer a truly once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with Finnish culture.

The upcoming celebration will certainly give everyone an opportunity to revel in parades, food and celebration. But if only we make the effort to dig a little deeper to find the reason for the celebration of Finnish culture, we’ll all be the better off for it.