Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sylvian joululaulu - my favourite Finnish Christmas song

Since I introduced you to one of the most common Finnish characteristics, melancholy, below, I though I'd share with you my favourite Christmas song which never fails to make me weep (yes, weep, not cry).

This carol, called Sylvia's Christmas Song, is based on a poem by Finnish poet Zacharia Topelius and set to music by Karl Collan. The story is about a bird, native to Finland, who is forced to migrate to Sicily for the winter, remembering his beloved homeland. The song (in its Finnish translation from the original Swedish) has twice been voted the most beautiful Christmas song in Finland and has become the song that most accurately describes the home-sickness felt by many Finns for their Nordic homeland at Christmas time.

There is also a reference to the bird longing to be freed from its cage, a part of the poem which some say refers to Finland's longing to become freed from Russian rule. (The poem was published 1853, some 24 years before Finland became Independent) Whatever the intention, the poet Topelius certainly manages to convey home-sickness, patriotism and the wish for freedom. Just what everyone wants at Christmas time?

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