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Runeberg's Cake Is The Sweetest Way To Pay Tribute To Finland's Poet

Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877) is known as Finland's national poet, and Runeberg Day is celebrated on February 5th each year. He wrote his poems in the Swedish language, and his famous song, Maamme, which means "Our Land," became the "Finnish national anthem," or Suomen kansallislaulu.

Runeberg's Day is a "flag day," or liputuspäivä.

There are official and national flag days marked and nominated in the Finnish calendar, the days on which the flag is flown. Flying the flag is, by law, performed from the public buildings on the official flag days.

This is an excellent and gracious way to highlight and differentiate an occasion with respect and honor.

Most foreigners know Runeberg because of "Runeberg tarts," or Runebergintorttu, which are sweet pastries available in supermarkets and cafes during January and February. These are delicious and sweet cakes said to be Runeberg's favorite.

J.L. Runeberg, the national poet, lived in Porvoo, and the cake 'Runebergin torttu' was named after him. Therefore, Cafés in Porvoo sell Runeberg's cakes, and all visitors to the town would undoubtedly like to sit with one in the birthplace of the national poet.

The poem Saarijärven Paavo: Message of love, compassion, and altruism

Runeberg was a language teacher, and later in his life, as a professor of Latin literature, he became part of a cultural circle and worked as an academic. He wrote his poems not only as heroic poems but also about life in rural Finland. The most famous of these poems is called Saarijärven Paavo in Finnish, which is about the harsh-cold climate where it is not so easy to grow food.

Paavo is the name of a peasant farmer who managed to provide food and survive the winter by simply mixing bark with grain and baking it into bread. But finally, after hard work, good days of success and luck also came as a good crop, and the family could eat good bread then.

High ´mid Saarijärvi´moors resided

Peasant Paavo on a frost-bound homestead,

And the soil with earnest arm was tilling;

But awaited from the Lord the increase.

And he dwelt there with his wife and children,

By his sweat, his scant bread with them eating,

Digging ditches, ploughing up, and sowing.

Spring came on, the drift from cornfields melted,

And with it away flowed half the young blades;

Summer came, burst forth with hail the shower,

And with the ears were half down beaten;

Autumn came, and frost took the remainder.

Paavo's wife then tore her hair and spoke thus:

"Paavo, old man, born to evil fortune,

Let us beg, for God hath us forsaken;

Hard is begging, but far worse is starving."

Paavo took the good wife's hand and spoke thus:

"Nay, the Lord but trieth, not forsaketh,

Mix thou in the bread of bark the double,

I will dig of double size the ditches,

But await then from the Lord the increase."

But the farmer Paavo has a very kind nature, and he urges his wife to continue baking bread so that they can help their struggling neighbor.

And here is the last part of the poem:

Paavo took the good wife's hand and spoke thus:

"Woman, he endureth trials only,

Who a needy neighbor ne'er forsaketh;

Mix thou in the bread a half of bark still,

For all frost-nipped stands our neighbor's cornfield."

The poem is long, but only some parts were chosen to be written here in this article. However, if anyone is interested in reading it as complete or reading more of his poems, libraries provide them. But the important thing is to enjoy the rhyme and beauty of the poem's words and connect and enjoy the message behind the poem.

The farmer family are hard workers and full of hope. They continue their hard work until obtaining good results and 'golden' times. They also speak the language of love and compassion and remember to help the neighbor in need.

Indeed, we all agree that this message is always valid; it is beautiful to practice kindness and altruism, and we all can benefit from these loving gestures in one way or another.


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