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Dr. Virtanen to Host Free Virtual Midsummer Lecture on June 23

June 19, 2020

The burning of the kokko at the 2018 Juhannus celebration in Toivola, MI. Photo: Olivia Myers | FinnU Marketing

Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen will be hosting a free virtual Midsummer lecture on June 23 at 8pm EST/7pm CST. This event is hosted by the Finnish American Cultural Activities, a Finlandia Foundation chapter in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

In the days of COVID when social distancing practices give us all pause to consider how to celebrate the Juhannus, join folklorist Virtanen for a virtual tour of the Juhannus Midsummer Festival in Toivola, Michigan. Using historical information and Virtanen’s extensive fieldwork of the festival and Finnish American folklife in general, viewrs will learn about the celebration as it has evolved over the years from community festival to a co-opted symbol of Finnish ethnicity in the Upper Midwest. The use of the festival as a springboard to discuss and reflect upon Finnish American social history, language, and folk traditions, and to instill support for expressions of Finnish ethnicity among young people and others will all be discussed and audience members will be invited to share their reflections on the meanings and uses of Juhannus in their own communities.

The lecture can be viewed on the Finnish American Cultural Activities YouTube channel here.

About Dr. Virtanen

Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen is Assistant Professor of Finnish & Nordic Studies at Finlandia University. She is an ethnologist specializing in Nordic and Upper Midwestern (USA) cultural practices, including festivals, traditional arts, oral genres, music, folk dance, ethnic and national dress, and heritage language maintenance. Historical moments that interest her include 19th century national romanticism, particularly in Finland, as well as 1905-1920, a period when American workers culture developed certain hallmarks during intense labor unrest and the entrance of the United States into World War I. This historical period is reflected in the present in existent labor music and laborlore (especially songs associated with the Industrial Workers of the World) and through monuments and museums documenting industrial heritage and the lives of workers. Her research in the iron and copper mining regions of the Upper Midwest and the post-industrial city of Tampere, Finland are related through Finnish American migration and certain similar historical developments in each place.

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