Hello, Parents!

The Heikinpaiva sign in front of the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University in Hancock. The sign reads: "Welcome!"
The Heikinpaiva sign in front of the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University in Hancock. The sign reads: “Welcome!”

I hope your student is off to a great start this semester. It sure was nice having a three-day weekend after returning from the four-week break. It gives students a little extra time to get used to the new semester and the long hours of homework it demands. Everything seems to be off to a solid start: classes have begun, broomball has started off well—with the exception of the canceled games on Monday due to the severe weather—and Greeks and other student organizations have had a successful start in building their month-long statues for Winter Carnival.

This week also marks the start for the traditional Finnish festival, Heikinpaiva. The Copper Country has strong Finnish influences and celebrates many of its cultural traditions. Many Finns and other Scandinavian and Canadian immigrants migrated here in the 19th Century for the well-known copper rush of the western Upper Peninsula. Many of the UP’s traditions stem from this demographic, including the Cornish pasties, the beloved Finnish saunas, and even the hosting of last year’s Finn Fest USA in July 2013. Today, the UP has the largest population of Finnish-Americans in the United States! To preserve this strong heritage and culture in the Copper Country, Heikinpaiva has been celebrated in Hancock since 1999. Heikinpaiva is a Finnish holiday celebrated to commemorate St. Henrik, the patron saint of Finland, and marks the midpoint of the Winter season. Because of this, Heikinpaiva is sometimes also referred to as “Keskitalvi,” meaning “midpoint.” This year, Heikinpaiva will be celebrated in Hancock on January 25 with different events occurring throughout the weeks leading up to the big day. Some of these events include:

Nordic Film Series

Traditional cultural enrichment classes in areas such as:

Participants partaking in the Polar Bear Dive in the Portage Canal.
Taking the icy plunge during the Polar Bear Dive
  • Baking

  • Tablet weaving

  • Music

  • Wood carving

  • Finnish card making

Club Finndigo

Club Finndigo is a feature film presentation and authentic Finnish buffet. This year’s film is Backwood Philosopher.

Family Fun Night

Families and kids of all ages are invited to join in traditional Finnish song and dance.

Tori Marketplace

The Tori Market is a Finnish-inspired farmers market that sells homemade goods as well as Finnish and Nordic collectibles.


The parade gives local residents an opportunity to show off their Finnish heritage and celebrate winter fun!

Wife-carrying contest

This contest is for husband-wife pairs. The husband who can carry his wife the fastest and farthest to the finish line wins.

Kicksled race

Children are invited to race each other in small sleigh-like contraptions.

Polar Bear Dive

With the supervision of safety professionals, participants are invited to dive into the icy waters of the Keweenaw Waterway on the Hancock waterfront!

Heikinpaiva Dance

This is the last event of the Heikinpaiva celebration. Residents and visitors alike are invited to celebrate the festivities with traditional Finnish dancing.

Heikinpaiva is a fun and quirky celebration for Finns and non-Finns alike. Heikinpaiva is a big part of the Copper Country tradition, and it’s a great way for non-locals to connect with the community. For more information on the Heikinpaiva events, please visit the official Heikinpaiva website.

That’s all for this week! If you have any questions about Heikinpaiva or would like to see more information about a specific topic, please email me at vjtaglio@mtu.edu.  Have a great week!


One comment on “Heikinpaiva!”

  • The Funster
    January 26, 2014 at 10:02 am

    The Heikinpaiva Festival sounds like it will be a great time for anyone even if they don’t have a Scandinavian background. The Family night, the Marketplace, the parade, and multiple events will be fun and entertaining. This really would be a great time for everyone!

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