Finnish influence in my home town

This is going to be a very picture-intensive post! I haven’t done many of these but I wanted to show some of my friends in Finland just how Finnish my hometown is!

We just spent about 10 days in Hancock, Michigan, where my mother lives now. I grew up in Houghton, just across the lake, but essentially the same area. When I was home this past week, I went around taking pictures of many Finnish things in Hancock. It was fun and the best part of it was that I looked at the town through new eyes. I have been so used to so many of these things that I had to change my perspective for a while to find them again!

For example, there are many Finnish flags flying downtown amongst the American flags. For example, this one is flying near the post office:

And this one, against a stormy sky:

Many of the street signs are written both in English and Finnish. Not all of them, but the ones closest to downtown are!

We have a small diner named after the Kalevala!

They have wonderful breakfasts and bakery. You can get nisu and prune tarts there. Also pasties, which are not Finnish, but Cornish, yet have been popular in the area since the mining days. (It is pronounced pass-tee, not paste-ee, which is something totally different!)

Here is a flower shop. If you speak Finnish you can interpret this sign easily!

There is even a university now that started as a small college:

The university has a Finnish American Heritage Center!

The town even has Nordic ski trails called “Maasto Hiihto.” I don’t know if this is the name of a person or something else, if anyone can translate, please tell me! I have skied most of these trails, and there is one that I only walked down! Pretty scary.

I found a small gift shop that sells many Finnish imports. I somehow justified spending the money on a Marimekko pencil bag for my purse and a pair of socks!

They also sell Fazer chocolates, Paulig coffee, Iittala crystal amongst other things.

My dad has a wonderful wood burning sauna (you say SOW-nah, NOT SAW-nuh) in his back yard and we all took one, except Sophie. It was Will’s first time and he did great! He sat on the lower bench and even took the steam! For a kid who likes it cold, he did really, really well.

Here is Dad’s sauna:

Overall, the trip was good. Sophie slept horribly (even worse than her normal bad sleeping), I think because of being in a strange place, and also because she is getting 3 molars in all at the same time. She fought sleep so much, I was completely exhausted by the time I would finally get her to bed for the night. Twice a day, yelling and screaming and crying for sometimes close to an hour. She was SO tired, yet REFUSED to sleep. It was horrible. There are things that suck about being a mother, and this one is one of the worst. It clouds everything else, really. Many days I just don’t enjoy her, because I am always so mad and frustrated. I don’t know how to break out of this. I need a vacation just to recover from my vacation. Not so good. The sleep by far was the worst part of the trip. I do miss home so much though. Hope to live back up there someday.

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4 thoughts on “Finnish influence in my home town

  1. Maastohiihto = cross-country skiing 😉 Great posting. Maybe I tell my relatives to go visit there since they never get to Finland.. Picture of your dad’s sauna could be from Finland!!

  2. Wow that’s amazing. That town is such a tribute to Finland! I love the Finnish street and store signs – how cool is that??!! I will most definitely have to check out Hancock somtime. Thanks for the photos!

  3. FANTASTIC entry. I loved hearing more about this town and seeing all of your good pictures! I’m sure that Jeff would love visiting there sometime. He *desperately* wants a sauna (and I didn’t know that was the correct pronunciation!). Loved the flags. I *so* want to try some Finnish cuisine sometime! (Either making it here at home or going someplace to eat.)

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