And now for the wife-carrying competition!

Yes, there is such a thing as a Wife-Carrying Competition

Ladies and gentlemen, I know some of you have been waiting for the Wife-Carrying competition photos for three years.

We are so sorry–we were never at the appropriate time in the appropriate place in Hancock during Heikinpaiva to present you with photos.

This year, you will be happy to know, we were.

Wife carrying, apparently, is an actual established bona-fide Finnish sport.  I kid you not.  Click on this link and you can learn the origins of this sport.

Apparently a robber named Ronkainen lived in Finland in the late 1800’s.  He (and his fellow band of thieves) were accused of robbing women and food from nearby villages.  Some say they carried the women on their backs as they ran away.  Please read the entire Wikepedia article if you would like further theories as to the development of this–shall we say, unusual?–sport.

Then you go to the “sauna”

Here’s the scoop, readers.  The announcer will read the rules.  Each couple must accomplish three things as quickly as possible.

The man carries the wife to Station One.  There they must unroll three rugs and shake vigorously.  This is called “cleaning the house.”

No kidding.

Then you serve guests their coffee. Guests first!

Then they run to the “sauna” (which is a bench) and pour three ladles of loly (steam).  They then switch each other with cedar branches.  Any of you who have ever taken a sauna know this is a traditional practice.  It invigorates the participants.  So they say.  (I have been in several saunas, but have never been beaten with cedar branches.)

Kids watch this tomfoolery with great interest!

Next, the participants dash to a table and pour coffee for their guests.  The guests must be served first.

I am not kidding about this.  These are the rules.  At least in Hancock’s Heikinpaiva competition.

Dog watches. Utterly fascinated.

The man then carries the wife home amid much clapping, hollering and yelling.

Big excitement in da Copper Country!

Kid watches–OK, maybe not so fascinated…

I don’t recall the winner’s time.  Somewhere between 50 seconds and 30 seconds.

A whole lot of wife-carrying going on…

Truly, all participants looked like they were having a great time!

One couple even got married either immediately preceding or following the competition.  No kidding.  I am not kidding about any of this.

A whole lot of fun going on, too!

The above photo depicts the soon-to-be-married couple.  Can you imagine what they will tell their grandchildren about their wedding?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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18 Responses to And now for the wife-carrying competition!

  1. Elisa's Spot says:


  2. holessence says:

    Kathy – This is hysterical! And I love, Love, LOVE the photograph of the little girl in the red hat and purple coat!

  3. Val Erde says:

    This is so funny, Kathy! But d’you know what got my attention most? The girl has bare shoulders. In the snow? Is she crazy???!

  4. Yooper fun! Good grief. Jon, graduated from MTU, and I plan on trying to get up for the day for Carnival in Houghton in Feb. (providing the weather is cooperating then). Hancock’s festival, I was unaware of. Your photo journal has been great. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Susan D says:

    This whole scenario just cracks me up. What fun! Fabulous pictures!

  6. What fun!! There was actually a question about this VERY thing on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” tonight – they asked where this competition originated. Thanks for sharing the photos! 🙂

  7. Reggie says:

    Love it! You guys have just sooo much fun! I wish I was there. Fab photos – esp of the little girl running! Toooo cute!

  8. john says:

    Thank you!

  9. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Oh what fun! And since it lasts but a minute the spectators probably don’t get too cold! That’s one handsome dog and one adorable not-so-interested little girl… Our behaviors at times must be so baffling to dogs and children!

  10. Karma says:

    So funny and cute! Great pictures! Reminds me of times hubby has swept a very sleepy me up off the couch.

  11. Robin says:

    I remember reading about this “sport” somewhere, and a husband who picked the woman he married based on her weight. I don’t think it was a true story.

    Looks like a fun time. 🙂

  12. Kathy says:

    Glad you all enjoyed the Wife-Carrying Competition. It was fun to finally see what it was all about. And it was fun to share it with all of you.

  13. Dawn says:

    I just realized that the picture of “house cleaning” might be in front of the old D&N building where I worked! Cool!

  14. Gerry says:

    No accounting for Finns.

  15. Marianne says:

    Very interesting, Kathy! I’ve never heard of this before.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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