With late June and early July being unusually warm this year, it seems that the dog days of summer came early to the Pacific Northwest. You might know that the hottest days of summer are called “dog days” because ancient Mesopotamians and Romans associated the hot weather with Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (“Great Dog”). Two thousand years ago Sirius rose in conjunction with the sun in late July – August, and because of its brightness, Mesopotamians attributed the warm temperatures of August not just to the sun but also to Sirius, and hence the label of dog days. In Finnish there isn’t a similar expression for warm weather or August, but instead August was for centuries called mätäkuu or rotten month. Apparently this was due to the German word Rodenmonat being mistranslated centuries ago into Danish as råddenmåned, which means rotten month, and the expression spread through Sweden into Finland. It remained in the two languages, and in fact mätäkuu was included in the Finnish almanac for centuries until it was removed in 1996.
Some of you have probably wondered why there hasn’t been any news about the biennial Finland Summer Festival; it is, after all, our turn to host it this year. When discussing plans for the festival with local Finnish organizations earlier this year, it became evident that organizing the event would be difficult, primarily because we have so many more activities this year with the Sibelius anniversary as well as the Seattlen Suomi Koulu and University of Washington Finnish Studies program celebrations this year. After the surprisingly popular dinner and concert at the Finnish Lutheran Church in March, somebody suggested that we should have another Sibelius dinner concert instead of the summer festival, but this time in a larger venue. Coincidentally the Finnish Choral Society had been planning a fall Sibelius concert, so together with the Finnish choir and the Swede-Finn Historical Society we are going to have a concert on the afternoon of Sunday October 18th at the Swedish Club. Some details still need to be finalized, but our plans include having Flame Catering provide appetizers before the concert and perhaps during an intermission. In addition to the Finnish Choral Society, the Swedish chorus as well as Maria Männistö and other soloists will perform that afternoon. There will be many events in the local Finnish community this fall, but I hope you have a chance to attend the concert. Our website (www.finlandiafoundationseattle.com) will always have up-to-date information about local events, so look there for the latest information about the concert and other events.
The fall also marks the start of work for a new FFSC board. As I mentioned in my message in the previous issue of this newsletter, Ron Karjala and Airi Suomalainen are leaving the board as their terms ended in June. I thank them both sincerely for their work and contributions to FFSC. Technically there is one new member on the FFSC board, namely Ilmari Ivaska, who was elected at the annual meeting as a member-at-large. Ilmari has, however, already attended FFSC board meetings since last summer as a representative of the University of Washington Finnish Studies program.
We are unfortunately losing our newsletter editor, Mia Spangenberg, who for the past year has very skillfully published our newsletter. Mia and her family have an exciting opportunity ahead of them that makes continuing as newsletter editor difficult. I’m grateful for Mia’s work over the past year, and I wish her and her family all the best in their journey ahead. We are actively looking for Mia’s successor, so if you are interested in serving as our newsletter editor then please contact us by email at