VÄÄRNI VICARAGE, Lapinlahti (situated 60 km north of Kuopio and 25 km south of Iisalmi)
As late as the early 20th century, Lutheran vicarages in Finland acted as small educational centres locally. In them the common people learnt how to read and write, and the vicarages provided them with knowledge of gardening and the novelties of farming and healthcare. They also influenced people’s cultivation of music and literature and their imitation of the manners, architecture and culinary preferences of the upper social classes.
Väärni Vicarage in Lapinlahti was completed in 1839. The main building is an example of the Empire style which spread to Finland following the country’s incorporation into Russia in 1809 after Swedish rule. What is significant is the fact that Juhani Aho, Finland’s national author, was born here. He was the first Finnish author to engage in writing professionally, a beloved depicter of Finnish people and nature and a prominent figure in the creation of a Finnish identity. In his own special way, Aho contributed to Finland’s autonomy as part of the Russian Empire and to the country’s eventual independence in 1917.
The residing owners of the vicarage, author Minna Kettunen and her husband, musician Jarkka Rissanen, bought the old vicarage, already in bad repair, in their hope to save it. After a massive restoration, Väärni Vicarage was reopened in 2008 as a touristic site, an attraction for local visitors and a venue for celebrations and concerts. The owners wish to foster the way of life that used to vibrate around Finnish vicarages, on the decline in the recent decades, and to commemorate the birthplace of Juhani Aho.
The vicarage is a valuable site of conservation nationally and has been restored in detail. As an example, the current wallpapers were painted by hand emulating the oldest layers dating from the mid-19th century and found during renovation. Both old and modern art are on display here, including an original plaster bust of Juhani Aho from 1920 by the local sculptor Eemil Halonen.
Coffee served with Stories about the vicarage
· The coffee is made following an old Finnish tradition and is served at tables with the Vicar’s wife’s speciality, a local sweet delicacy. While coffee is being enjoyed, the residing author will tell stories concerning the history and present day of the vicarage.
· Duration 30 to 60 minutes
· Group size 10 to 40 persons
· Price 15 € per person
The Vicarage Menus
The meals are prepared of fresh local produce in a traditional manner and can be enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere in the halls and guest rooms of the vicarage. Situated within the Finnish Lake District, the vicarage boasts freshwater fish on the menus. Groups only (minimum size 20 persons), on advance order.
Juhani Aho’s Freshwater Fish Buffet
Salted pikeperch and ide, Pike chips in vinegar, Apple and red beet salad, Pickled cucumber seasoned with dill, Vendace baked in cream, Potatoes with sautéed leek, Rye bread, Barley scones, Butter, Home-made beer, Sour milk, Iced water, Wild berries in sauce * PRICE 30 € per person
The Vicarage’s Banquet Buffet
Vicar’s wife’s fine pike mousse, Potato and red onion salad, Roast veal à la Vicarage, Potatoes, Carrot purée, Salad of the season, Rye bread, Semolina-stuffed rye pasties, Butter, Malt beer, Iced water, Coffee and Cream cake * PRICE 32 € per person
Translation by Irmeli Huttunen, BA in English