Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Flag days in Finland ... and few words about Mikael Agricola

There are many days in year when I see Finnish national flags flown from the public buildings and at the numerous flag poles around. There is one flag pole in our yard, and it seems like every week I see the flag there. Today also. I have just checked how many flag days are in Finland and I got this:
By law, the Finnish flag must be flown from public buildings on the following days:
February 28, day of Kalevala and Day of Finnish culture, May 1, Vappu, Second Sunday in May, Mother's Day, June 4, birthday of C.G.E.Mannerheim, also Day of the Finnish Defence Forces, Saturday between June 20 and 26 June - Midsummer Day - Juhannus, and Day of the Finnish Flag, December 6, Independence Day, + Days when Finland holds elections or a referendum, and the day the President of Finland is inaugurated.  
Days when flying the flag is an established custom:
February 5, birthday of J.L.Runeberg, March 19, birthday of Minna Canth, Day of Equality,  
April 9: on this day Mikael Agricola died and Elias Lönnrot was born, and today Finland celebrates the Day of the Finnish language.
April 27, National War Veterans' Day, May 9, Europe Day, May 12, Day of the Finnish Identity, Third Sunday in May, memorial day for the war dead of the Finnish Civil War and World War II.
July 6, Eino Leino Day, and day to celebrate poetry and summer, October 10, birthday of Aleksis Kivi and Day of Finnish literature, October 24, Day of the United Nations, November 6, Day of the Swedish Identity, Second Sunday in November, Father's Day, 8 December, birthday of Jean Sibelius and Day of Finnish music.
So today there is Day of the Finnish language. Mikael Agricola - 'father of the Finnish written language' died 456 years ago. He was incredibly intelligent, pre-eminent and hardworking man.
I would like to write few words about him.
He was born in Pernaja (Pernå). He was very gifted and eager to learn, and already as a young boy he was sent to the Latin school in Viipuri (Vyborg). He continued studying in Turku (Åbo) and in Wittenberg in Germany. He was i.a. student of Erasmus of Rotterdam and Martin Luther.
In 1554 Agricola became the bishop of  Turku. In only 3 years! he translated the New Testament into Finnish and wrote the prayer book and hymns for the Finland's Church. This work was a basis of the Finnish orthography and spelling. He published nine books of altogether ca. 2400 pages
- in only 10 years. He died suddenly in 1557.
HERE's good link to detailed Agricola's biography in English.

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