Heikki Hits the Stage

If festival, song, and snowmobiling clubs are not enough, Heikki Lunta has also served as inspiration for stage productions in the region. Between 1997 and 1999, three serial plays on the Finnish Snow God were performed as a part of the Finnish Independence Day events at Finlandia University (then Suomi College). As James Kurtti recounts on the discussion pages of the Finnish Genealogical Society,

“In gleaning materials from these performances one discovers that Heikki Lunta hailed from somewhere in central Finland, the son of Eljas and Saima Lunta. The mother of Eljas was Laura Lunta. Heikki's siblings included Saara and Matti. If the play was totally based on facts, then Heikki left Finland to escape being drafted into the Russian Army. Heikki married in Hancock, actually on Kvinsihilli [Quincy Hill], two years after his arrival in America. I have not been able to locate the records (script from 1999!) regarding Heikki's nuptials, so I can't tell you at this point, whether he married his childhood sweetheart, Aino Makinen, or some other Copper Country Finnish girl.”

Heikki also served to educate children when Ishpeming teacher Anne Asplund rewrote the classic tale, “The Three Little Pigs,” into “Heikki Lunta and the Three Little Finns.” The play, performed with sock puppets, told the story of three young Finns who must build homes that will stand up to Heikki Lunta’s annual dances. Here we see that Heikki Lunta holds meaning for young and old. The lessons that the Snow God serves to teach in the Upper Peninsula are widely varied and serve to provide people of all ages with models of understanding how life and culture proceeds in the region. From the type of one’s shelter to the importance of Finnish nationalism in the Copper Country, Heikki Lunta can be used in any number of ways to reflect on social meaning and to share such ideas with others.

COPYRIGHT:© Hilary Virtanen 2006
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