The publication of Finnish National Epic, Kalevala, was widely acclaimed in Finland, for they fuelled the aspirations of the emerging national awakening that ultimately led to Finland's independence from Russia in 1917.
The book became a source of inspiration, context and substance, as Finns sought for a Finnish form in which to express mainstream European art forms: realism, naturalism, expressionism, symbolism. Frequently known as the 'Golden Age of Finnish Art', the 20 years from 1890 to 1910 saw the influence of Kalevala and its inspiration spread beyond art into every walk of life. The characters of Kalevala have given their first names to several generations of Finnish children as well as the names of streets, ships, buildings, offices, shops, companies, factories, newspapers, theatres, and clubs.
In Kajaani, there used to a school named after one of the main characters, Väinämöinen (Väinämöisen koulu). In addition, there are at least the following streets
Finnish folk poetry was first written down in the 1670s. In the 19th century, collecting became more extensive and systematic when about 2 million verses were collected. Of these, about 1,2 million have been published and some half a million remain unpublished in the archives of the Finnish Literature Society, the collections in Estonia, the Republic of Karelia and other parts of Russia.
Elias Lönnrot and his contemporaries collected most of the verses and poem variants (one poem might have up to 200 variants) scattered across in the districts of northeastern Finland and the Russian Province of Archangel (Karelia and Ingria) where a language closely related to Finnish, Karelian, was spoken. For this reason, Karelians in the Republic of Karelia and other Balto-Finnic speakers value the book.
Kajaani served as a base for Lönnrot when arranged the poems into a coherent whole, an epic poem known as 'The Kalevala' ('The Lands of Kaleva'). It is thought of as one of the most significant works of Finnish language literature. Even today, it is the most translated work of Finnish literature, with complete versions in almost 40 languages.
Lönnrot merged poem variants and characters together, left out verses that did not fit in or composed lines of his own in order to connect certain passages into a logical plot. He even invented a few names, which could be used for a character throughout the whole story. It has been estimated that the Kalevala comprises: 1/3 of word for word recordings by the collectors, half of material that Lönnrot adjusted slightly, 14% of verses he wrote himself based on poem variants and 3% of verses purely of his own invention.
The Old Kalevala ('Kalewala, taikka Wanhoja Karjalan Runoja Suomen Kansan muinoisista ajoista') (The Kalevala, or old Karelian poems about ancient times of the Finnish people) came out in 2 volumes in 1835–6 and consisted of 32 poems. The 2nd edition of Kalevala (1849) (so called "new Kalevala") contains 50 poems, and is the standard text of the Kalevala read today.
In Northern Europe, the word 'tar' refers primarily to a substance derived from wood, which is nowadays used even as an additive in the flavoring of candy and other foods, since it is microbicidial and has a pleasant odor. The tar was prepared in the great pine forests where small land owners produced wood tar as a cash crop.
It has also been used as a preservative for wood which may be exposed to harsh conditions, including outdoor furniture and ship decking and rigging. In the 18th century, wood tar was shipped from Finland to continental Europe, where it was used as a sealant and an anti-rot agent for ship hulls. Few visitors to any ship which as been rigged in a traditional manner have left the vessel without experiencing the aroma of wood tar.
In Finland, wood tar was once considered a panacea reputed to heal "even those cut in twain through their midriff". A Finnish proverb states that "If sauna, vodka and tar won't help, the disease is fatal". Wood tar is also a traditional Finnish medicine is because of its microbicidial properties. It is a valuable stimulating dressing in scaly skin diseases, such as psoriasis and chronic eczema.
Wood tar is also available diluted as tar water, which has numerous uses as:
-a flavouring for confectionery (e.g. Terva Leijona) and alcohol (Terva Viina)
-a spice for food (e.g. meat, sausages)
-scent for saunas. Tar water is mixed on water that is turned to steam to the air
-anti-dandruff agent in shampoo
-a component of cosmetics
Wood tar is still being produced in small quantities throughout the Kainuu region in summer, although the production saw its highs in the 18th century. These days only the wood burning kilns used for tar production, the river banks and place names containing the word 'tar' remind of the past times of the region. A proverb from the region states "Whatever you do, do it by using tar, and it will come good".
In Kajaani, you can buy tar confectionery at the Pekka Heikkinen bakery.