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FINN THINGS: Celebrate Laskiainen this weekend

By Kim L. Samuelson If you are Finn and haven't attended a Laskiainen, you don't know what you're missing! Laskiainen, or Shrovetide, is when Finns combine two celebrations in one: they welcome the coming of spring with outdoor fun family events,...

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By Kim L. Samuelson

If you are Finn and haven't attended a Laskiainen, you don't know what you're missing! Laskiainen, or Shrovetide, is when Finns combine two celebrations in one: they welcome the coming of spring with outdoor fun family events, and they celebrate Shrove Tuesday with their last chance to eat whatever rich foods they want before their Lenten fasting.

This weekend, Feb. 6-8, is a great chance to celebrate Laskiainen! Located in Palo, just a little over an hour north and east of Cloquet, you will find the 78th Annual Laskiainen, the "Finnish sliding festival." Started in 1938, Palo's Laskiainen is nationally-known as one of the largest and longest continually held Laskiainen events in the U.S.

Located at the Loon Lake Community Center, this year's Laskiainen will feature outdoor events all weekend from the famous "iced" - really fast and fun sliding hills - to skating to sleigh and carriage rides. Inside events will include Saturday’s basketball games for children and "old timers," strolling musicians from the Old Co-op Theatre (Saturday), the Queen's Ball Coronation (Friday), and a special performance by Todd Eckart (Sunday).

The Tori, or marketplace, is open all weekend and is a must-see with the wide variety of crafts and artisans and demonstrators, most showing Finnish crafts and foods. And you can't forget to celebrate Shrovetide! Go early for a breakfast of Kropsu (Saturday) or Piggies and Pancakes (Sunday). And during your slidings and wanderings, eat your fill of mojakka or sloppy joe (Saturday), pea soup (Sunday), cardamom bread, squeaky cheese, and many other wonderful Finnish and American treats available.

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In addition, during the next couple of weeks, there are several other Finnish fun events coming up in the area. The new Sami Cultural Center, 4915 E. Superior St., Ste. 205, Duluth, has a special series about Sami culture. The next two Saturday classes are "The North American Sami Reawakening" (Feb. 14) and "Sami Identity, Genealogy, and DNA" (Feb. 21). Reservations are needed and the classes are filling up fast! Call 218-525-4757 or emailsamicenterna@gmail.com to sign up.

The Nordic Center, 23 N. Lake Ave., Duluth, also has several Finnish programs coming soon. At 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, Leila, a Finnish war child, will share her stories of being one of the 70,000 children evacuated in 1939 from Finland to Sweden or Denmark during the war with Russia.  

A special one-day workshop on carving wooden spoons will be held at the Nordic Center from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21. Fred Livesay, a woodcarver from St. Paul, studied his craft in Sweden and has been teaching woodcarving throughout the midwest. For more information, or to register, call 715-817-6230 or email Kathy@nordiccenterduluth.org .

Mark Munger, local author and district judge, will give two local talks, with book signings, about his new book, "Sukulaiset: The Kindred," the sequel to his last book, "Suomalaiset." You can see him at the Nordic Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, or at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at the Cloquet Public Library.

So, whether you are all Finn, part Finn or a "wanna-be-Finn," here are some fun Finnish events that will get you out of the house during these "still winter, not quite spring" days!


Kim Samuelson is half Finn in body but full Finn in spirit, and she enthusiastically loves all things Finnish. Kim has been writing about Northland Finnish events for the Finnish American Reporter newspaper for over eight years and now brings that news directly to Northland Finns through the Pine Journal. You can reach her at samfam55@yahoo.com to get or share Finnish news.

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