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Runeberg Paiva: Celebrate the Day of Johan Ludvig Runeberg!

Day of Johan Ludvig Runeberg

Johan Ludvig Runeberg was Swedish-Finnish and is known for his writing and poetry. He was born on February 5, 1804 and died on May 6, 1877. Runeberg rose to the status of Finland’s national poet during his lifetime, due to his work being very “patriotic,” or isänmaallinen.

Runeberg has received numerous awards for his work and is highly honored in Finnish culture. Thus, by learning about Runeberg Paiva you’ll get a nice look at Finland’s history and its values. It’s our wish at FinnishPod101.com to help you learn all you need to know about Finnish culture, and this famous Finnish poet is no exception.

So, who was Runeberg and what is Runeberg Paiva?

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1. What is the Day of J.L. Runeberg?

Runeberg’s best-known work is “The Tales of Ensign Stål,” or in Finnish Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat, which is a collection of Johan Ludvig Runeberg poems which commemorate the Finnish war. The opening poem of the work was later composed to become the “Finnish national anthem,” or Suomen kansallislaulu, called Maamme which means “Our Land.”

Runeberg’s poems were written in Swedish and dealt largely with life in rural Finland. Another famous poem of his, “Bonden Paavo,” or “Farmer Paavo,” is about a poor farmer who persevered despite years of difficult climates and poor harvests. The farmer fights off starvation by mixing bark into his bread. After several years, he finally reaps a rich harvest. Despite assurances from God that he can now eat bread made solely from grain, the farmer continues to mix bark into his bread in order to share the bounty with his struggling neighbor.

Runeberg has received numerous national accolades including a day dedicated in his honor. Runeberg’s home, located in the center of Porvoo, was the first museum house in Finland. In addition, a number of monuments and memorials have been erected in his honor, and numerous streets, squares, and parks have been named after him.

For example, there is a Runeberg street in Helsinki and a Runeberg park in his birth city of Jakobstad. One of Finland’s most prominent “literary awards,” or kirjallisuuspalkinto in Finnish, the Runeberg Prize, was also established in his honor.

Further, Runeberg has been memorialized with a commemorative coin to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. The coin was minted in 2004, and features Runeberg’s portrait on one side and a font from a Swedish newspaper on the reverse.

Thus, it’s clear why Runeberg is so highly regarded by the Finnish people. Enough so that there’s a day held each year in his honor: The Day of J.L. Runeberg or Runeberg Paiva.

2. When is it?

February 5

Each year, the Finnish people celebrate the famous Finnish poet J.L. Runeberg on the date of his birth, February 5.

3. How is it Celebrated?

Runeberg Tarts

Runeberg’s Day is a well-established “flag day,” or liputuspäivä. Literary-themed events are held this day at places such as bookstores and cafes. Further, the Runeberg Prize mentioned earlier is fittingly awarded on this day in Porvoo.

A well-known way to celebrate the day is to eat “Runeberg tarts,” or Runebergintorttuja, which are sweet pastries said to have been Runeberg’s favorite treat. The baked goods are usually available in grocery stores and cafes from January up until the day of J.L. Runeberg. Some of the cafes in Porvoo offer the pastries all year round.

The cylindrical shaped, arrack- or rum-flavored tarts contain wheat flour, bread crumbs, cookie crumbs, and almonds, and they are decorated with raspberry jam and icing. (Do we need to wait until Runeberg Paiva to eat these?!)

4. Additional Information

It’s said that Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s wife, Fredrika Runeberg, developed the pastry mentioned above for her sweet-toothed husband from whatever ingredients she could find in the pantry.

She was also a distinguished writer; she was the first Finnish historical novel writer, achieving popularity through her short stories as well as her novels. Talk about a great match!

4. Reading Practice: Fredrika Runeberg

Learn more about Johan Runeberg’s wife in the Finnish text below (the English translation is below):

  • Myös Johan Ludvig Runebergin vaimo Fredrika Runeberg oli ansioitunut kirjailija. Hän oli ensimmäisiä suomalaisia historiallisen romaanin kirjoittajia. Romaanien lisäksi hän saavutti suosiota lyhyillä kertomuksillaan.
  • Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s wife, Fredrika Runeberg, was also a distinguished writer. She was the first Finnish historical novel writer, achieving popularity through her short stories as well as her novels.

It’s also said that Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s wife developed Runeberg tarts for her sweet-toothed husband from whatever ingredients she could find in the pantry. Yum!

5. Must-know Vocab

Man Sitting at Typewriter with Drink

Here’s some vocabulary for you to go over in order to fully understand this Finnish holiday and celebrate it to its fullest.

  • päivä — “day”
  • runoilija — “poet”
  • kirjailija — “writer”
  • toimittaja — “journalist”
  • kansallisrunoilija — “national poet”
  • kansallislaulu — “national anthem”
  • torttu — “tart”
  • manteli — “almond”
  • rommi — “rum”
  • liputuspäivä — “Flag Day”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, be sure to check out our Finnish J.L. Runeberg Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied with an audio file so you can listen while you read.

Conclusion

As you can see, Johan Ludvig Runeberg was one of the most influential Finnish writers and his work holds great significance to the Finnish people. Thus, J.L. Runeberg Day is widely celebrated and held in reverence by many Fins.

What do you think about Runeberg and the Finns’ celebration of him? Is there a famous writer or other influential person your country celebrates? Let us know in the comments!

For more information on Finnish culture, visit us at FinnishPod101.com. We offer an array of insightful blog posts, vocabulary lists on a variety of topics, and even an online community where you can discuss lessons with fellow Finnish learners! You can even download our MyTeacher app to take advantage of a one-on-one learning experience with your own personal language teacher.

We hope you enjoyed learning about this Finnish holiday, and that you’ll enjoy making Runeberg tarts even more! Until next time, good luck in your language-learning!

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