4 ways to approach the North Karelia

North Karelia is a region in Eastern Finland. Its regional center and largest town is my home town Joensuu. Although I no longer live there, it is always the best place to visit. In fact, it is the place you should also explore in. I’ll tell you why.

1. Art History

Romantic interest surrounding Karelia, the Kalevala, and Finland’s distant past is known as Karelianism. This era is also known as the Golden Age of Finnish art, and took place in the 1890s but continued into the 1920s. This national romantic art movement involved writers, painters, poets and sculptors. During that time the artists worked and spent holidays admiring the scenery of North Karelia. Forested hill Koli, which is the most impressive natural attraction there, was also a popular honeymoon destination. Jean Sibelius and his young bride among others spent their honeymoon there. One of Sibelius’ most memorable works is the Karelia Suite Intermezzo.


2. Greek Orthodox culture

Orthodox culture is Karelian culture and vice versa. Culture is not merged with the general Finnish tradition, but the Karelian culture heritage is maintained in North Karelian villages. The Orthodox Church did not favor forced deportation and armed crusades, but it spread among the people little by little over decades and centuries, the years 1000 to 1200. Christianity reversal did not change the Karelian folk culture. The old traditions began to be used in new contexts. Laments, the old tradition of singing poems were and still are used at weddings and funerals. Remembering the deceased with food gifts is also combining Christian and pagan traditions.

3. Food

Karelian food is characterized but widely well-known around Finland. North Karelian culinary tradition is influenced of the Orthodox Church and Russia. The local nature provides a wealth of game, fish, mushrooms and berries. The continuous development of the culinary culture appears, for example, in cooperation between restaurants and organic farms.

4. Music

Finnish summer include a variety of cultural events. In North Karelia, they focus on the music. There are classical music festivals, rock and folk music festivals and song festivals, so everyone can find their own way to spend a musical feast.


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