In researching Finnish migration a lot of cultural questions started popping up. Things that Finnish children learn in school is often foreign to us. And the further your roots start back to Finland probably the less you know. I thought I’d share some additional answers that I learn along the way. I thought I’d start with those little calendars with Finnish names on them you might get in your holiday cards.
Finns celebrate an age old tradition of individual’s first names called Nimipäivä (roughly – ni mi pei væ). This started as part of a Christian tradition in the Middle-Ages where people named after Saints would celebrate their names on a specific date. In Finland this evolved to include not only Christian Saint names but also Catholic and even age-old (shall we say pagan) names. The control of Finland by both Sweden and Russia over the years is also resented with names from those cultures.
2015 was a big year in the name day. There are now 834 names on the list. The list is updated every five years. In 2013, it was announced that 39 new Finnish names would be added to the list in 2015. Another 57 Swedish-Finnish names were added for the Swedish version of the calendar. For a name to be added 500 children need to have that name, 50 for Swedish-Finnish names. Over 14 million name day calendars are printed each year.
Name day is celebrated with cards and coffee and cake. And they replace birthday celebrations in most offices. For the first time the name “Sisu” is also on the list and will be celebrated on February 28th, Sisu Day.