A Finnish Tale from the Kalevala: Louhi, Witch of North Farm

A Finnish Tale from the Kalevala: Louhi, Witch of North Farm

Retold by Toni de Gerez

Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Thousands of years ago, in far north Finland, when the sun did not rise for several weeks…and that remains the same today… generation after generation during these dark days, people recited stories, poems and sang songs about how the world began, ancient heroes, magic spells, darkness, light, nature, etc. About a century ago, a traveling doctor, Elias Lonnrot, heard these oral tales and songs as he went from village to village. He compiled them and wrote them down in a collection called the Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland. (Adapted from the Author, T de G.)

Louhi, Witch of North Farm is a delightful story from the Kalevala to explain the darkness that comes once a year to Finland for a long period of time. It is written in free verse, often poetic at times, and the pictures by Maine’s own illustrator, Barbara Cooney are delightful and beautiful with hues of dark and light.

Louhi, the witch of North Farm in Northern Finland, lived by herself on Copper Mountain and was very bored. She decided she needed to start some trouble, not sure what yet, to liven things up. After putting on 7 layers of clothing, as it is very cold in northern Finland, she hopped on her skis and skied across the sky.

Below her, she heard harp music, played by Vainamoninen, known as the Great Knower of Everything. He too has special powers and could even make a boat just by singing! His harp music was so sweet that it attracted the forest animals, stars from the sky, and the sun and moon. Louhi now had her plan; she turned herself into a huge shrieking eagle and stole the sun and the moon, carried them back to Copper Mountain, and hid them.

It was dark and cold everywhere! People were frightened! Cows bumped into their sheds. The smoke from roof holes did not know in which direction to blow. Would it be dark forever? Vainamoninen asked his friend the smith, Seppo, to make a new sun and moon. Would that provide light? What could be done to get the sun and the moon back so the good people of northern Finland would not be in the dark forever?

Read this epic story from Finland to find out.

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