Flags are flying in Finland today to celebrate Kalevala, the national epic literary work written by author Elias Lönnrot in 1835.
February 28th is also known as Finnish Culture Day.
Kalevala is based on folk poems that Lönnrot collected in the 19th century, featuring strong, noble and often tragic characters at the centre of the action, weaving heroic tales of everyday folk with mythology and magical acts.
In the early 1800s he made many poetry tours in Finland, across the eastern border and to residential areas to gather together folk story histories and preserve them together in his Kalevala work.
For the burgeoning Finnish nationalist movement of the time, Kalevala became a symbol of Finland’s language, culture, identity and helped raise awareness of Finland when it was translated into other European languages in the mid-1800s at a time when there wasn’t widespread knowledge about the country.
These days Kalevala has been translated into more than 60 languages and is considered the most widely-translated Finnish work of literature. Kalevala’s tales have been produced as an opera, and featured as a popular cartoon with canine characters.