Thursday, March 18, 2010

Minna Canth and Equality Day

I have written about the Flag Days that have occurred during our stay in Finland: Runeberg Day, Kalevala Day, End of the Winter War. Under Finnish law the flag must be flown on public buildings on the following days:

  • February 28, day of Kalevala; the occasion is also celebrated as the Day of Finnish culture
  • May 1, Vappu, the Day of Finnish Labour
  • Second Sunday in May, Mother's Day
  • June 4, birthday of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland; the occasion is also celebrated as the Flag Day of the Finnish Defence Forces
  • Saturday between June 20 and 26 June, Midsummer Day; the occasion is also celebrated as the Day of the Finnish Flag. The flag is hoisted already on Midsummer eve at 6 PM and flown all night.
  • December 6, Independence Day
  • Days when Finland holds parliamentary and local elections, elections to the European Parliament, or a referendum
  • The day the President of Finland is inaugurated.

Then there are optional flag days.

I noticed on our calendar that March 19 is also a flag day: in honor of Minna Canth.

According to my extensive Wikipedia research March 19 is also the day of equality. My friend Niina told me about Minna Canth and her place in the pantheon of Finnish literature.

Minna Canth was born Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnsson in Tampere in 1844 and went to study in Jyväskylä. Her education at the teacher's college ended when she married her teacher and had seven children. Her husband died before the birth of her 7th child and she moved to Kuopio to run a fabric shop. Not only did she run a successful business to support her 7 children as a single parent, but she also wrote both in Swedish and Finnish. Her plays and stories illustrate the hardships of the working class as well as discrimination against women.

I have read one story by her, "The Nursemaid" written at the end of the 1880s. The story illustrates one disastrous day in the overworked life of a young Finnish speaking girl in a Swedish speaking household. Emmi, the nursemaid, is so tired during the story that you will realize how her senses are dulled. She asks the other maid why "we're so wicked, we servant girls?' The maid responds, "I'll tell you, then: it's because we have to stay awake so much of the time. We have time to commit more sins, half as many again as other folk. Look, the gentry can sleep on in the morning, till nine or ten o'clock; there's not so much time left for them to do bad things." That is as good a reason as any to sleep in--less time to sin!

To celebrate Minna Canth Day I suggest you give your nursemaid the day off with pay and, if you don't have a nursemaid, sleep in and bake this Minna Canth cake:

By: stormylee
Mar 15, 2004 the link is here:

A lovely, soft spice cake with a surprise ingredient - whipped cream! Minna Canth (1844-1897) was a Finnish playwright, novelist and essayist as well as an energetic fighter for women's rights and social justice. This recipe comes from the Canth family recipe collection and was printed in the Perinnemakuja maakunnista cookbook. I've modified it slightly - the original recipe called for 1 tbls of ground bitter orange peel, which I don't like at all, so substituted cinnamon instead. You can of course experiment and find your favourite spice combination, too!



  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 175 C.
  2. 2
    Grease and flour a 2 litre cake pan (I use a Bundt pan).
  3. 3
    Whip eggs with sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. 4
    Add the whipped cream to the egg mixture, mix to combine.
  5. 5
    In a separate bowl, combine the flour with baking soda and the spices.
  6. 6
    Add dry ingredient mixture alternately with the molasses, mixing well after each addition.
  7. 7
    Finally, add the melted butter, mix to combine.
  8. 8
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 175 C for 30 minutes.
  9. 9
    After the first 30 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 150 C and bake for further 20-30 minutes, or until cake tests done.

And here is another recipe in Finnish!:

Recipes - Minna Canthin kakku (cake) by 9teen87's Postcards.
Minna Canthin kakku

2 dl siirappia
2 dl sokeria
2 munaa
4 dl hyvaa kermaa
6 dl vehnäjauhoja
1 rkl pomeranssikuorta
1 tl neilikkaa
1 tl inkivaaria
2 tl soodaa
4 rkl sulatettua voita

Vaahdota kerma.
Vatkaa kananmunat ja sokeri
Yhdista vaahdot.
Sekoita kuivat aineet ja siirappi
vuorotellen vaahtoon. Lisaa voi.
Kaada taikina voideltuun
Paista 1/2 tuntia 175 asteessa ja
n. 1/2 tuntia 150 asteessa.

kahvipoyta Minna Canthin huoneessa.
Kuopion Korttelimuseo, Kirkkokatu 22
(Valok. Mauno Hamalainen)

Minna Canth (1844-1897)
Kirjailija, kauppias, toimittaja ja mielpidevaikuttaja. Minna Canthille nimetty kakkuresepti on peraisin Canthin perheen reseptikansiosta. Minna Canthin koti-ja kaupatalo sijaitsee Kuopiossa Kuninkaankadun ja Minna Canthin kadun kulmassa. Kuopion korttelimuseoon siirretyn Minnan salongin poydassa on nautittu monet kahvikupposet, silla kirjaliia tunnettiin intohimoisena kahvin ystavana.

postmarked in 2008 with a Suomi Finland butterfly stamp


  1. I think her "wicked" reasoning also could apply to new mothers, mothers of toddlers, mothers of preschoolers, and mothers of grade schoolers. I don't know yet about mothers beyond grade schoolers. I'll let you know when I get there.

    Love your posts!

  2. I've never heard of Minna Canth Cake! Sounds good.