Finnish influence in my hometown

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.

11 thoughts on “Finnish influence in my hometown

  1. What a beautiful place- really makes me wish to visit! Especially that bakery!! It’s so great to hear about your vacation! I definitely know what you mean about a ‘vacation from your vacation’ tho’, haha…

  2. Your post makes me homesick. I know your tour was in Hancock but you can’t forget the Soumi Restaurant in Houghton! Oh what I would give for some Houghton love.

    My name is Tara I found you on the MI UP Ravelry page. I grew up in Houghton and I’m sadly displaced in Tennessee where no one knows of the UP or Finland. It’s so sad.

  3. Maastohiihto means cross-country skiing. So no, it’s not a person’s name. 🙂

    That does look like a very nice town. I’d love to visit it sometime.

  4. This is awesome 😀 I am a Finn living in Norway and sometimes it’s lovely to see homie things, although this time from the US of A 🙂

  5. I attended Michigan Tech and lived up there for 6 solid years. I worked in a few of the bars and restaurants in Houghton and have many friends that still live up there. I can’t wait to go back there to visit and I wish that the job market was better and my husband and I could find a way to move back there. My husband also went to Tech.

  6. Onko siella pullaa leipomossa? Thanks for reading my blog – hopefully most of the information/observations are accurate!

    1. I haven’t been to Finland but I really want to go! It sounds like you had a great time living there! The bakery called the Kalevala that you saw does make Finnish baked goods, it’s also a restaurant and I used to get breakfast there, it was great! 🙂

  7. Hi Liz! Did I ever tell you that I lived in Finland, many moons ago? First in Virkaala and then is Karjaa. I was an exchange student. I will have to visit Hancock! I never knew it had such a Finnish ancestry!

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