Professor Jan Čermák was presented with the insignia of Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland. The Chairman of the Scandinavian House, Michal Švec, was presented with the insignia of Knight of the Order of the Lion of Finland. The state awards were granted for exceptional merit in increasing and strengthening awareness of Finnish culture in the Czech Republic. The award ceremony took place on Finland’s Independence Day, on December 6th 2017, and was hosted by the Ambassador of Finland to the Czech Republic, H. E. Helena Tuuri.
Prof. PhDr. Jan Čermák (born 1962) is a leading Czech specialist in English linguistics and medieval literature at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University. Besides English and Czech he studies Finnish philology and in the last years he has worked with Finnish national epic Kalevala. Kalevala's first Czech language translation was made by Josef Holeček in 1894. In the early autumn of 2014, the publishing house of the Czech Academy of Sciences published Kalevala's revised and commented Czech language edition entitled "Elias Lönnrot and Josef Holeček's Kalevala in a modern critical perspective". Professor Jan Čermák was the driving force behind the work, supported by a group of researchers from Charles University. This 1100-page work is graphically impressive and it presents and evaluates interpretations of the epoch from a linguistic, cultural, and ethnographic point of view. The work promotes the updating of Kalevala and the recognition of the epic, as well as Finnish culture generally in the Czech Republic. The release of the book in 2014 received extensive media attention and is one of the most prominent Finland-related publications in the Czech Republic.
Michal Švec (born 1984) studied Fine Arts and Classical Archeology at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague, where he now continues his Ph.D. studies in Comparative Literature. Since 2008 he is the chairman of the Scandinavian House, a Nordic cultural center in the Czech Republic. Under his leadership, the Scandinavian House has organized several hundred cultural events; started organizing the Nordic Autumn Festival and built a unique library of Nordic literature. Michal Švec also works as a translator from Finnish to Czech language and he specializes in Finnish literature and film. His translation of Pentti Saarikoski’s “The letter for my wife” received Tomáš Hrách Prize in Literature this year.
"I see the awards as a distinct appreciation of the entire work of the Scandinavian House, a non-profit organization that has been active in the field of Nordic culture for twelve years. Especially thanks to the dedicated work and the enthusiasm of many volunteers, we are able to bring the Czech public closer to high quality literature and cinematography that mirrors important and inspirational Nordic values such as equality, respect for each individual, emphasis on education or environmental care" Michal Švec says.
The Order of the Finnish Lion is an outstanding Finnish state award. It has been awarded since 1942 for merited military and civilians, both Finnish and foreign citizens.