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Education and culture

It is impossible to be cultured without education. In Southern Savo, only a select few received a good education before the elementary school institution was established in the 1860s. There was a trivial school, i.e., a type of elementary school, which was available already in the 18th century, first in Savonlinna, after which it moved to Kuopio, with stops in Mikkeli and Rantasalmi first. The trivial school only had approx. 20 students a year attending it. The situation was the same elsewhere in Finland, too, which was noticeable in the fact that approximately only one in every ten Finns could write in 1880.

Travelling school items at the Haukivuori Museum

The Haukivuori Museum has items from an elementary school and a travelling school in its exhibition upstairs. The level of educational tools was rather modest even at the turn of the 20th century.

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School items at the Virtasalmi Museum in Pieksämäki

The Virtasalmi Museum has a lot of elementary school items on display, which show that the education provided there was more diverse than the education provided in travelling schools: globes were used to try to teach pupils about the world that we live in and instruments were used to develop their musical creativity. The exhibition also has paintings on display that encouraged pupils to internalise the values accepted by society in order for them to become good citizens.

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As education improved, it also became possible to manage the household better on farms. At the end of the 19th century, more and more people were able to read and write, which led to it becoming more common to read newspapers. This, in turn, led to people knowing more about their own region and the world outside of it.

Office of the Master of the House at the Karhulahti Museum in Joroinen

This room, that of a wealthy house owner, shows the lifestyle and changes in the philosophy of life that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. The office supplies — a typewriter and calculator — show the desire to keep the books balanced. The newspapers and magazines on the corner of the table show that the residents of this house wanted to stay informed of what was going on in the world and be part of the new trends. The stylish wallpaper and furniture and the beautiful lock show an appreciation of beauty and artistic values.

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The life of people in Southern Savo has always included festive occasions. In an agrarian society, festivities were planned around work. Many of the old ways of celebrating are still part of modern life, while some of them have vanished. Many of the ways we celebrate what we consider to be traditional are instead rather new; for example, Christmas trees were brought indoors only at the turn of the 20th century.

International customs started to reach Southern Savo in the 19th century due to increased schooling, the impact of the upper strata of society and the improvement in transportation and telecommunications. The city of St. Petersburg and the connections to it also played a major role. New ideas and customs spread through the example set by rectories, mansions and estates. The traditional peasant culture of Finland has slowly transformed into a post-modern global popular society and, as we know, that transformation is still taking place.


Wedding dress at the Vanha-Rantala House Museum in Pertunmaa

The Vanha-Rantala House Museum has a beautiful white wedding dress on display that was used by Maria Översti (later on: Paloniemi) in 1892. Traditionally, wedding dresses were black and a white wedding dress at that point in time was a rather new fashion trend in Finnish peasant weddings.The trend had been worked its way down from the upper echelon, and it is not surprisingly in the least that it was a wealthy house like Vanha-Rantala where the new fashion was embraced early on.

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Copyright © Etelä-Savo museums 2007. All rights reserved. Last modified: 10 Feb 2011 08:40