Birthday of Runeberg

Runeberg (Johan Ludvig), Birthday of

February 5
Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804-1877) is widely regarded as Finland's greatest poet. His work embodied the patriotic spirit of his countrymen and, because it was written in Swedish, exerted a great influence on Swedish literature as well. One of his poems, "Vîrtland" ("Our Country"), became the Finnish national anthem.
Schools throughout Finland are closed on Runeberg's birthday. Busts and pictures of him are displayed in shop windows, particularly in Helsinki, with rows of white candles placed in the foreground. A special ceremony is observed at Runeberg's monument in the Esplanade, where his statue is decorated with garlands of pine and spruce, suspended between four huge torches. Students lay wreaths of flowers at the foot of the monument and sing the national anthem. At night the torches are lit, and lighted candles burn in the windows of houses and apartments.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
Department for Communication and Culture
P.O. Box 176
Helsinki, 00161 Finland
358-9-1600-5; fax: 358-9-1341-5901
BkFest-1937, p. 110