12 December 2017

Why Tove Jansson chose these five languages to ‘March for Peace’ postcard?

During an extensive career, Tove Jansson illustrated, for example, postcards for charity. In 1971 UNICEF’s Christmas card assortment included a card ‘Wonder of Christmas’, and ten years later ‘March for Peace’.

On December 24th, 1981 Finland’s largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat published an opinion piece about the ‘March for peace’ card. The commenter was concerned if Finnish language and Finland were insignificant for the famous Finnish artist Tove Jansson because of ‘rauha’, the Finnish word for peace was missing.

Helsingin Sanomat 24.12.1981


Tove Jansson used to answer for all the letters she personally received from fans and although this feedback was published in a newspaper, Jansson found it important to answer it.

Already earlier Tove Jansson had discussed about the postcard draft with Birgitta Boucht who was an editor in chief at Fredsposten magazine at that time. After seeing the commentary published by the Helsingin Sanomat, Jansson asked if Fredsposten could publish the answer to the question as a curiosity.


Kära Birgitta,
Minns du vi pratade om Unicefs kort, den första skissen? Apropå en arg insändare i Hels. San.
24 dec. Tror du saken kunde nämnas i Fredsposten som en kuriositet?

Tänkte svara på insändaren men det blev inte av och nu är det ju lite sent på dan.
Vad jag ville ha sagt: “‘Rauha-sana unohtui, vai? Signaturen ‘Harmittaa koko kortti, Porvoo’ är
upprörd över att jag på mitt julkort för Unicef har utelämnat ordet Rauha i det fredståg jag har
tecknat. Nu ville jag gärna tala om att på den första skissen hade jag både rauha och en massa
andra språk, det var ett helt äventyr att försöka ta reda på hur man ska säga fred på så många sätt
som möjligt. Men Unicef förklarade att i dessa sammanhang får man bara använda fem olika
språk. Förstå det, den som kan! Tove Jansson”


In her letter to Birgitta Boucht, Tove Jansson explains how in her first draft she had written the word “peace” in Finnish and in many other languages, and how finding out the translations was an adventure itself. However, for the final card, Unicef wanted only five selected languages and Finnish was among few to be dropped out.

Fredsposten magazine 2/1982 published Tove’s answer as she wished. Hopefully the worried person from Porvoo, Finland also received the answer to her/his question published at Helsingin Sanomat on Christmas Eve 1981.


Fredsposten 2/1982


Tove Jansson’s letter, dated March 7th, 1982 was recently published in the Fredsposten magazine 4/2017.


Cover photo and the letter: © Moomin Characters™ 


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