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Profile of the Day: Johan Ludvig Runeberg

On this day in 1804, Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg was born. Considered the national poet of Finland, Runeberg wrote in the Swedish language and had a significant impact on Swedish literature.

Image: Johan Ludvig Runeberg / The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland, Flickr

Runeberg was born on February 5, 1804 in what is now Pietarsaari, Finland to a Swedish-speaking family. He was the eldest of six children born to Lorenz Ulrik Runeberg and Anna Maria Malm. His father was a ship captain and his mother had come from a notable merchant family. He married his second cousin, Fredrika Tegström, who was also a writer and pioneer of Finnish historical novels.

In 1830, Runeberg published his first collection of poems. He often wrote of the spirit of the Finnish people, which had a significant impact in shaping the people’s sense of national identity and patriotism. Runeberg’s epic poem, The Tales of Ensign Stål, is often considered to be his greatest work. His poem Vårt land (Maamme in Finnish) would become the national anthem of Finland.

Today the poet’s birthday is celebrated as Runeberg Day in Finland and delicious Runeberg tortes are eaten in celebration. According to legend, Runeberg’s wife created the pastry and regularly made it for the poet for breakfast.

Explore Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected to the poet.

View Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s Geni Profile

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