Not Just Talking About the Weather:
Tradition, Social Change and Heikki Lunta

In 1970, during the early days of the reawakening of Finnish ethnic consciousness in North America, a chance radio advertisement created a now-popular folk character in the Finnish ethnic community on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan This character, Heikki Lunta [hay’-key loon’-ta], was originally presented in a song, and immediately became a parcel of the local cultural life Since that time, Heikki Lunta has become the subject of other songs, stories, festivals, jokes, and even a common folk belief.

Heikki Lunta stands as a metaphor for many things, and as his uses continue to grow, so do his meanings from person to person He can cross ethnic, economic, and geographic lines, but his survival in folklore depends on those who first imagined him, the residents of the Upper Peninsula.

What follows is a history of the character, examples of the cultural creations that have resulted from his existence, and an exploration of the meanings that Heikki Lunta has for different people Speaking of, or through, Heikki Lunta is more than just talk about the weather It is talk about social construction of self, communal pasts and futures It is talk about Finnish-American and Upper Peninsula self-image and it is talk about the changes these communities continue to face Tervetuloa [Welcome].


COPYRIGHT:© Hilary Virtanen 2006
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