this flag day is in honor of the first publication (1835) of the national epic poem, the kalevala. it is also generally celebrated as finnish culture day.
it was 'written' by elias lönnrot, a physician, botanist and linguist. apparently, he collected the finnish folk songs/stories for the kalevala in between his studies and various posts as a doctor. from what i gather he made about a dozen trips to the karelian (western) border area of finland. apparently he didnt so much write the epic poem as weave the bits of songs/stories he collected together.
the collected work of finnish mythology has 50 poems. there are stories of creation, magic, love, war, etc. i havent had a chance to read a translation, though apparently 5 english versions exist. its on my list, i just couldnt get to it in time this year. maybe next year i can ramble a bit about my reading of it.
we have, however, read a childrens book that turns one of the poems stories into a picture book (illustrated by barbara cooney, of 'miss rumphius' fame), called 'louhi, witch of north farm'. beautiful book. i bought it and highly recommend it to anyone interested, its definitely very finnish.
it should be obvious that the poem is very important to finns and their culture, it tells the tales of them and their lands and beliefs after all. it still influences modern finns and finland and im sure it will continue to do so for at least another 180 years.