Be Finn-Tastic!

Finns have made significant contributions to science, art, music, sports, world peace, and economics. Here are just a few of Finland’s amazing people who have made the their mark on their world. Just like these Finns, you too can Be Finn-Tastic!!

The “Flying Finns” — As Finnish runners started to dominate long-distance running, the nickname was passed on to all successful Finns in the sport, including multi- Olympic gold medalists Paavo Nurmi and Ville Ritola . Nurmi won three gold medals at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Belgium and five at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris , where he was partnered with Ritola, who ran to four gold medals. Volmari Iso-Hollo , the winner of 3000m steeplechase at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics , was one of the best-known Finnish runners in the 1930s and also nicknamed the Flying Finn. During his tour of the United States in 1940, Taisto Mäki – who held five world records – was regularly referred to as a Flying Finn. The last Flying Finn in running was Lasse Virén , who won the 5000m and 10,000m events at the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics .

Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari — (born 23 June 1937) is a former President of Finland (1994–2000), 2008 Nobel Peace Prize winner and United Nations diplomat and mediator, noted for his international peace work.

Eric Magnus Campbell Tigerstedt — ( August 4 , 1887 – April 20 , 1925 ) was one of the most significant inventors in Finland at the beginning of the 20th century, and has been called the “Thomas Edison of Finland”. He was the first person to implement a working sound-on-film technology, and in the process, he made significant improvements to the amplification properties of the vacuum valve . His own film “Word and Picture” was presented to a gathering of scientific dignitaries in Berlin in 1914. It was the world’s first successful “talking picture”, although his technology was never commercialized.

Eliel Saarinen –(Aug.20, 1873 – July 1, 1950). Architect famous for art nouveu buildings in the early years of the 20th Century. In 1925 he designed the Cranbrook Educational Community where he later taught and became president. Some of his designs include the Finnish Pavillion at the Exposition Universalle in Paris 1900, Helsinki Central Railway Station, National Museum of Finland and Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, Minnesota. His son, Eero Saarinen (Aug.20, 1910 – Sept. 1, 1961) became one of the most significant architects of our time. One of Eero’s first substanital projects was the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. He also designed headquarters for John Deere, IBM and CBS. Not to mention his work at Vassar, Morse College and Yale University. Eero Saarinen is probably most well known for his design of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis Missouri. His extensive project list also boasts the TWA flight center at JFK Airport, the main terminal of the Dulles International Airport and the Kresge Auditorium at MIT. View more of Eero Saarinen’s work

Baron and Count Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim — ( June 4 , 1867 – January 27 , 1951 ) was the Commander-in-Chief of Finland ‘s Defence Forces , Marshal of Finland , a politician, and a military commander. He was Regent of Finland (1918–1919), and the sixth President of Finland (1944–1946).

Mannerheim was born in the Grand Duchy of Finland to a notable Finnish noble family that had emigrated to Finland from Sweden .

He started his military career in the Imperial Russian army, becoming the leader of Finnish government forces in the Finnish Civil War of 1918 and during World War II .

Johan Julius Christian Sibelius — (8 December 1865–20 September 1957) was one of the most notable composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity .

The core of Sibelius’ oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies . Like Beethoven , Sibelius used each one to develop further his own personal compositional style. These works continue to be performed frequently in the concert hall and are often recorded.

In addition to the symphonies, Sibelius’ best-known compositions include Finlandia , Valse Triste , the violin concerto , the Karelia Suite and The Swan of Tuonela (one of the four movements of the Lemminkäinen Suite ). Other works include pieces inspired by the Kalevala , over 100 songs for voice and piano , incidental music for 13 plays, the opera Jungfrun i tornet ( The Maiden in the Tower ), chamber music , piano music , 21 separate publications of choral music , and Masonic ritual music. Sibelius composed prolifically until the mid-1920s.

Elias Lönnrot — ( April 9 , 1802 – March 19 , 1884 ) was a Finnish philologist (the science of language and literature) and collector of traditional Finnish oral poetry . He is best known for composing the Kalevala , the Finnish national epic compiled from national folklore.

Lonnrot began his career as a doctor in the famine struck region of Kajaani in Northern Finland. However, his passion was the Finnish language. He began collecting folktales from the rural Finnish people in 1827. Taking a leave of absence from the Doctor’s office, Lonnrot toured Finland and began publishing a series of books.

Lönnrot was recognized for his part in preserving Finland’s oral traditions by appointment to the Chair of Finnish Literature at the University of Helsinki .

The Kalevala , the Finnish national epic that Lönnrot compiled, was an inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien ‘s the Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings .

Guess Who Else Is Part Finnish? These celebrities celebrate a Finnish ancestor:

Pamela Anderson

Matt Damon

Christine Lahti

Jessica Lange

Lisa Niemi

David Chokachi

Dave Mustaine

Just to name a few. Click here to see a more detailed list.

**information provided by Wikipedia**