Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Ilmarinen's Wedding Feast

AT LENGTH the guests began to arrive, and Ilmarinen came escorted by hundreds of his friends, driving a coal-black steed, and with the same birds singing on his sledge as when he came to woo the Rainbow-maiden, Louhi's fairest daughter. When he alighted from his sledge, Louhi sent her best servants to take the steed and give him the very best of food in a manger of pure gold. But as Ilmarinen advanced to enter the house, they found that he was too tall to pass through the doorway without stooping, which would have been very unlucky: so Louhi had to have the top beam taken away before he could enter.

               Inside the dwelling was so changed that no one would have recognised it. Louhi had cast a magic spell over it, and all the beams and door and window-sills were made from bones that gleamed like ivory; the windows were adorned with trout-scales, and the fires were set in flowers; and the seats and tables and floors were of gold and silver and copper, with marble hearth-stones and silken carpets on the floors. Louhi bade Ilmarinen welcome when he came into the guest-hall, and calling up her servant-maidens, she gazed at her daughter's suitor. The maidens bore wax tapers, and by their light the bridegroom looked handsomer than ever, and his eyes sparkled like the waves of the sea.

               Then Louhi bade the maidens lead Ilmarinen to the seat of honour at the table in the great hall, and then all the other guests took their places, and the feast began. First of all the daintiest dishes of every sort were served by Louhi to the bridegroom--honey-biscuits, river-salmon, butter, bacon, and every delicacy one can think of--and after he was served, the servants took the dishes around to the others. After this the foaming beer was brought in silver pitchers, and all were served in the same order.

               All the heroes and magicians assembled there began to grow merry, and Wainamoinen said that some one should sing the praises of the beer. But no one else could be found to do it, and all pressed Wainamoinen to sing, so at last he arose and began. He sang of the beer first, and then from his great stock of wisdom he sang them one song after the other of the days of old, until every guest grew happy from his magic power of song. But when Wainamoinen had finished his singing, he added: 'Yet I am but a poor singer. For if great Ukko should sing his perfect songs of wisdom, he would sing the oceans into honey and the sands to berries, and the pebbles into barley, the rivers into beer, the fruit to gold, and the mountains into bread. Grant thy blessing, great Ukko, upon this feast of ours. Send joy and health and comfort to all those here, that we may ever look back with pleasure to Ilmarinen's marriage with the fair Maiden of the Rainbow.'

               Thus Wainamoinen, the great singer, ended his singing, and the time had come for the bride and bridegroom to leave for their distant home in Kalevala. But first must Osmotar, the wise maiden, instruct the bride as to her future life. Osmotar told her that she must henceforth be thoughtful and not foolish, that she must love her husband's kinsfolks as her own. Osmotar told her, too, never to be idle, and then instructed her in all the many household duties of the wives of Kalevala, but at the same time impressed it upon her how wicked she would be if with all this she were to forget her own parents. After this Osmotar turned to the bridegroom and bade him ever love his bride and honour her, nor ever treat her ill.

               Thus she advised them both, and they made ready to leave. But the Maiden of the Rainbow wept, because she was leaving all the joys and pleasures of her youth, and those she loved, to go to a distant land, where all would be new and strange, and perhaps, too, hard for her. Yet at length all the farewells had been said, the last goodbye was spoken, and the two got into their sledge and the next instant the swift black steed flew off like an arrow, rushing on toward the land of Kalevala, leaving far behind them the gloomy Northland, which was yet so dear to the Rainbow-maiden, and which she was never to see again.

               Three days they journeyed onward over hill and valley without stopping, and the third evening brought them in sight of Ilmarinen's smithy, and they could see the smoke rising from the chimneys of their home. There they found that they had been expected for a long time, and there was great rejoicing when their sledge drove up, with the birds singing merrily on its front, and all bright and happy.

               Lakko, Ilmarinen's mother, received them at the door and welcomed the fair Rainbow-maiden most heartily, and when the bridal pair had taken off their furs, she served them with the very best of food and drink--choicest bits of reindeer, wheaten biscuit, honey-cakes, and fish of all sorts, and the best of beer. And while they ate, the others, who had been old Louhi's guests, began to arrive, and soon there was a great feast going on, almost as great a one as there had been before at Louhi's.

               While they were all feasting, Wainamoinen arose and began to sing again. This time he sang the praises of the bridegroom's father and mother, and the bride and groom, and ended up with praising the guests that were assembled there. Then he and many of the guests took their leave and journeyed off together to their homes. Three days they drove on together, and Wainamoinen kept on singing all the time, until suddenly his song was cut short, for his sledge ran into a birch-tree and was broken into pieces. But Wainamoinen considered the case and then said: 'Is there any one here who will go to Tuonela, to the Deathland, for the auger of Tuoni, that I may mend my sledge with it?' But no one would venture on so perilous a journey, so at length Wainamoinen went himself and obtained Tuoni's magic auger, and with its aid, on his return, he put together his magic sledge again.

               Then he harnessed up his steed once more and galloped off to his home. Thus ended Ilmarinen's wedding and the feasts that followed it.

               These two stories took Antero's fancy, and he begged that 'Pappa Mikko would tell about some more times when they had good things to eat.'

               But Father Mikko said: 'People can't be eating all the time, Antero, and I think the others would rather hear about what Lemminkainen did, when he heard of the feast and was not invited himself.'

               Mimi cried 'Yes, yes!' and so the old man began.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Ilmarinen's Wedding Feast
Tale Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Book Title: Finnish Legends for English Children
Book Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Publisher: T. Fisher Unwin
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Finland
Classification: unclassified

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