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The festival of Juhannus, or Midsummer, is second only to Christmas in importance in Finland.  It has been observed since pagan times in many northern countries at the summer solstice. The early Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of St. John the Baptist, and its observation begins the evening before, on St. …
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By early March 1940 the final act of the Winter War between Finland and Russia was underway. A new and massive Russian offensive had been launched on the Karelian Isthmus. “Twelve Soviet divisions along with five Soviet tank brigades—approximately a quarter of a million men—were about to hurl themselves in the Viipuri area against two …
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On the journey toward Finnish independence as a nation, the epic poem Kalevala played a central role in creating a sense of national pride and identity. The first edition of the Kalevala appeared in 1835, compiled by Elias Lönnrot from folk poems collected in Finland and East Karelia. Lemminkäinen’s Mother by Akseli Gallen-Kallela Ateneum, Helsinki …
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November 30, 1939, began like any other winter Thursday in Finland. For many families, it was pea soup and pancake day. People were already dreaming of Christmas, the light in the darkness. There was worry over the international situation, of course, but it seemed far away. Thankfully, the recent crisis with Stalin concerning his territorial …
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August 23 is the 79th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that paved the way for World War II. The invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany from the west on September 1, 1939, and by the Soviet Union from the east two weeks later,  had been set in motion on August 23, 1939, …
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On the journey toward Finland’s independence as a nation, the epic poem Kalevala played a central role in creating a sense of national pride and identity. The first edition of the Kalevala appeared in 1835, compiled by Elias Lönnrot from folk poems collected in Finland and East Karelia. This poetic style and its stories had …
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One of the most important battles of the Winter War, the Battle of Raate Road, was fought Jan. 1–7, 1940. It was a part of the larger Battle of Suomussalmi. The Russians aimed to cut Finland in half at its narrow  ‘waistline’, from Suomussalmi in the east to Oulu on the west coast. The Soviets …
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ON DECEMBER 6, 1917, the Finnish parliament declared independence from Russia. After 700 years of Swedish rule and 100 years as a Russian Grand Duchy, the sovereign state of Finland took shape. Over the next 100 years, the young nation fought hard for its independence, fending off the Soviet Union in the Winter War and …
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November 30, 1939, began like any other winter Thursday in Finland. For many families, it was pea soup and pancake day. Daylight hours were short; the darkness came early. There was concern over the international situation, of course, but it seemed far away. There had recently been negotiations with Stalin concerning his territorial demands on …
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The Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30, 1939, and the Winter War began. The groundwork for this had been laid in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of the previous August, when Stalin and Hitler agreed on spheres of influence in Europe and placed Finland in the Soviet sphere.  The war ended in a bitter armistice in …

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