Heikinpaiva Mid-Winter Festival
Hancock, MI 49930 (906) 487-7302
Phone: (906) 487-7302
It should be no surprise that Finlandia University takes great pride in its Finnish heritage. According to The Finnish American Reporter, approximately 40 percent of Hancock’s population bears Finnish ancestry, the largest ethnic group in the region, making recognition of this history significant to many locals. Finnish traditions and culture are woven deeply into Finlandia and the Copper Country’s philosophies and approach to life, but there is one time each year where these cultural roots are shown in all their glory: Heikinpäivä.
This unwieldy mess of vowels is undoubtedly familiar to Keweenaw locals, but for those of us who are unacquainted, Heikinpäivä (which is obviously pronounced Heikinpäivä; is a Finnish-American mid-winter festival intended to celebrate all the quirks and qualities of the Finnish people and their descendants in the U.P. The festivities originate from an annual holiday commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Henrik, the patron saint of Finland, and celebrating the halfway point of winter, when, as the old Finnish saying goes, “the bear rolls onto his other side.” Liliana Lazo, an alum of Finlandia university, and winner of last year’s wife-carrying contest, said “the Heikinpaiva festival is so welcoming with so many activities, cultural differences, and being at Finlandia, everyone should look forward to attending!”
In Hancock’s rendition of this age-old tradition, the merriment takes place at the end of January each year. Among the many events on offer at Heikinpäivä, these are the five that will bring out your love for Finland, no matter your heritage.
1. POLAR BEAR DIVE, 2. WIFE-CARRYING, 3. A POLAR PARADE, 4. KICKSLED RACING and 5. ARTS, CRAFTS, AND FOOD.