"2 Tango Loves" FINTango

Country/People: Finland

Dance:  FINTango

Border/Corners: Hannunvaakuna

Dry point etching on Aluminum plate


Hyvää päivää  / Hello in Finnish



(See blog on Argentina Tango for background information about the dance and its origins.)


I have to say, I was quite surprised to learn that the world’s oldest and largest Tango Festival is the Tangomarkkinat, held annually since 1985 in the Finnish town of Seinäjoki, usually in July.  This festival attracts more than 100,000 participants. And millions more watch it on T.V.  (I’ll remind you that the total population of Finland is only a bit over 5 million.)  In fact, Tango is so popular in Finland, there are several noteworthy festivals held throughout the year, including The International Helsinki Frostbite Tango Festival, usually held in February. Tango came to Finland in 1913 by way of Buenos Aires orchestra performances in Europe, and over the years, this Scandinavian country has made the music and the dance its own.  As distinguished from Argentine Tango, Finnish Tango follows ballroom tango rhythms and is almost exclusively performed in minor keys. The traditional Spanish bandoneon (discussed in the Argentine Tango Blog) has been replaced with an accordion.  Significantly, while the music themes may still be about love and longing, they are most often related to Finnish folklore or the changing seasons: love of nature or longing for childhood memories, for example.


Corners: You may recognize the symbol shown in the corner squares as the “Command” icon on an Apple computer.  But this symbol, called Hannunvaakuna in Finnishhas a much deeper history. It is actually an ancient mark that represents Good Luck/Good Future in Finland and in many other Scandinavian countries.  It is found on houses and barns to discourage evil spirits, and as a decorative element on everyday utensils and clothing.  The oldest example was discovered on a 1000-year old pair of Finnish skis (Finnish Museums).  Since the 1950s, the Hannunvaakuna has been used in Finland on signs to identify “Places of Interest.” 


References and Links:

( Note: I do not endorse or  mean to promote any  of these sites.) 

  • C.G. The Economist. Explaining the Finnish love of Tango. 11/10/2017. https://www.economist.com/prospero/2017/10/11/explaining-the-finnish-love-of-tango
  • Virtual Finland. The Story of the Finnish Tango. http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=26960
  • ( Department of Archaeology. "Ski fragment". Nat'l Board of Antiquities (in Finnish). Helsinki: Finnish Museums Online. p. KM9908:1. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.)


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The Art and Writing of Barbara Rizza Mellin