Kalevala Day February 28

The first edition of the folk epic Kalevala appeared in 1835, compiled and edited by Elias Lönnrot from the folk poems he had collected in Finland and Karelia. The poetic song tradition, sung in an unusual trochaic tetrametre, had been part of the oral tradition among speakers of Balto-Finnic languages for 2,000 years.

This poetic metre was subsequently used extensively by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

When the Kalevala appeared in print in 1835. Finland was an Autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia. Prior to this, until 1809, Finland had been a part of the Swedish empire. The independence movement that resulted in Finland’s declaration of independence in 1917 was greatly influenced by the emergence of the Kalevala as a symbol of national identity.

The Kalevala also inspired the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in his music, as well as generations of poets and artists to this day.