Heikinpaiva A Finnish American Mid Winter Festival

In 1999, the Finnish Theme Committee of the City of Hancock created a new Finnish-American celebration - Heikinpäivä. The celebration's themes are taken from Finnish folk saying associated with the name day for Heikki (Henrik's day 19 January). By far, the Finns make up the largest ethnic group of Michigan's Copper Country. In Hancock approximately 40 percent of the population claimed Finnish ancestry in the most recent federal census.

Finnish speaking residents of the Copper Country still recall the proverbs their parents and grandparents brought with them from Finland. In particular, the weather proverbs connected with St. Henrik's Day have been retained in the Hancock area, where huge amounts of winter snow are the norm. "Karhu kylkeänsä kääntää" (The bear rolls onto his other side), "Heikki heinät jakaa" (Heikki divides the hay) and ultimately, "Talven selkä poikki" (winter's back is broken). The bear - an ancient Finnish and Saame symbol -- figures well in the celebration.

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