February 28 is the Kalevala day (the Day of Finnish Culture) in Finland. Kalevala is the National Epic of Finland, the first edition published in 1835 by Elias Lönnrot. Elias Lönnrot collected Finnish folk poetry from the rune singers of Finland in 1828-1834 and compiled it into an epic poem Kalevala.

Many Finnish artists and composers, for example Jean Sibelius have been inspired by the stories of Kalevala. Kalevala was also a source of inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien. The elven language in his The Lord of the Rings novels was influenced by Finnish language.

One of my favorite stories of Kalevala  is the story of Lemminkӓinen and his mother. Lemminkӓinen, a handsome adventurer, goes on an impossible quest to the Finnish underworld Tuonela. In order to win the hand of the Maiden of North,  he needs to kill the beautiful swan of Tuonela. Lemminkӓinen enters the dark river of death but instead of killing the swan he loses his own life.

The mother of Lemminkainen knows that something has happened to her son when she sees drops of blood in his hairbrush. She immediately goes to a frantic search for her son. It is not easy to find him but she does not give up. She arrives to the black river of Tuonela and rakes  the pieces of her son’s body out of the river. She receives ointment from heaven, sews the pieces of Lemminkainen back together and with the power of her love she sings life back to him.

I have been thinking about the role of Lemminkӓinen’s mother in this story and how it still resonates today. I have learned that  sometimes we have to be our own mothers, sew the broken pieces, and then sing ourselves (and each other) back to life again- piece by piece, one song at the time.

Happy Kalevala Day! Here is an ancient Finnish lullaby for anyone who needs one.


  1. Kiitos! Thank you your beautiful kantele playing and singing. This my first hearing of the 5-string kantele, and I am truly amazed at how much music you can make with just five strings and your voice. Please keep playing and singing!

    • Thank you for your encouraging words! Happy New Year!


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