HANCOCK - The 14th annual Heikinpaiva will showcase Finnish culture while helping to relieve winter doldrums for area residents.
Hilary Virtanen, public program coordinator for the Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center, said Heikinpaiva began in 1999 during a national conference in Hancock about preserving the Finnish heritage for third- and fourth-generation Finnish Americans. The festival became an annual event.
"It really did catch on," she said.
A participant in the annual Polar Bear Dive jumps into Portage Canal as part of the 2012 Heikinpaiva celebrations. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette file photo by Kurt Hauglie)
The wife-carrying contest is a popular attraction at Heikinpaiva. This year’s Heikinpaiva celebration kicks off with the Nordic Film Series on Thursday and culminates with a variety of events on Jan. 26. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette file photo by Kurt Hauglie)
Virtanen said about seven years ago, the center's Nordic Film Series was integrated into Heikinpaiva, and that's how this year's events will start. The film, which will be presented at 2 and 6 p.m. Thursday at the FAHC on Quincy Street in Hancock, is "Iris," which is about a young woman who leaves a life of wealth and prestige in Sweden to live with relatives on a farm in a Swedish-speaking part of Finland.
Virtanen said another film presented as part of Heikinpaiva will be "Hella W" on Jan. 18 at the Calumet Theatre. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. with the film to follow at 7:15. The film is about well-known Finnish playwright Hella Wuolijoki and is part of the Club Finndigo series.
Virtanen said occasionally a lecture is presented as part of Heikinpaiva, and this year she'll give a talk at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 in the FAHC about the evolution of Heikki Lunta, a fictional "snow god" created in 1970 as a promotion for a Hancock radio station. The concept grew, and now Heikki Lunta is well known.
New this year is a wine tasting event at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Jutila Center for Global Design and Business in Hancock presented by the Hancock Rotary.
Also new this year is a Finnish greeting card-making workshop, Virtanen said.
"They'll be in the Finnish language," she said.
All the materials for making the cards, including card stock, will be provided, Virtanen said.
In addition, at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine there will be a dance with a $5 cover charge, Virtanen said.
"This year, it will be a fundraiser for FinnFest," she said.
FinnFest USA 2013, which is also a celebration of Finnish culture, will be based in Hancock in June.
The final day for Heikinpaiva is Jan. 26, and Virtanen said it will feature the usual closing day events, including the parade with the Hankooki Heikki, or parade marshal, who this year is Dan Maki, a retired Finlandia University professor.
"He's been an extremely important member of the Finnish community," she said. "He's really a wonderful choice."
Another well-attended closing day event is the Polar Bear Dive, but Virtanen said because of the thinness of the ice on the Portage Canal, the location for the event is yet to be determined.
For more specific information about the various Heikinpaiva events, visit pasty.com/heikki/sched.html, or for general information, call Virtanen at 487-7505.