by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK
Birthday is always a time to go back the memory lane. To recall how the concerned person got there. As the celebrated character today is a country – Finland – we have to go back a hundred and more years to the times of not being independent as a state, to the troubled times, to sad events and sorrow FOR and INSIDE the nation. Rolling down the road to present days in Finland, there were the years of reconstruction, remaking the souls and the buildings in 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s and still in 1950’s. I wonder whether this all has made us a people with such lamenting songs and gloomy ballads – or is it in the character of Finns? However, there have been many wonderful occasions and matters in Finland throughout these years: solid education for all, good care for the elderly, fancy sports events, creation of many natural parks and engineering competence wonders – to name a few of the brand factors.
Finland is often seen and discussed as Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito), as Finland geographically DOES seem like a maiden, raising one arm (used to raise two). She was originally called Aura, as the Aura River in Turku, the old capital of Finland. So as a matter of fact, we are celebrating the 100 years of Aura, the blue and white lady with bright eyes, a lot like the Aurora of fairytales; sunrise. Finnish Maiden is a classical guardian character, as so many people around the earth have. Some might even call her the Mother Earth or Finland.
I am wishing this lady, Finnish Maiden now a beautiful birthday, with loads of wisdom and kindness of heart in all local and global matters. I wish she will stay still when the suspicious minds fight at each other, I wish she will be the negotiator of many conflicts as before, I wish she will carry on protecting the mattimeikäläinen (or Joe Public of UK, Pepito Pérez of Spain, Si Anu of Malaysia, Pierre Dupont of France…), I wish she will be the real lady she has been and still is. And I wish she never loses her SISU, the miraculous strength we all live by when all other energy is lost.
To balance the nostalgy and eloquence of the previous lines, let’s take a piece of poem by Jorma Etto, Suomalainen (Finn) with translation of mine there below:
“Suomalainen on sellainen joka vastaa kun ei kysytä,
kysyy kun ei vastata, ei vastaa kun kysytään,
sellainen joka eksyy tieltä, huutaa rannalla
ja vastarannalla huutaa toinen samanlainen: metsä raikuu, kaikuu, hongat humajavat.”
[A Finn is one that replies when not asked,
asks when not replied to, does not reply when asked,
one who loses track, shouts on the shore
and on the opposite shore there is one just the same: the forest blares, echoes, the pinetrees hum.]