‘Trumputtaja’, the Walter Cronkite of his time

‘Trumputtaja’, the Walter Cronkite of his time

In most Finnish towns in the 18th century, news was spread by ‘trumputtajas’, drummers. These messengers played on street corners and shared the latest news as well as information about coming events such as elections, tax collection, street repairs, inspection of the town’s fire hose or runaway cows!

The drummers were active in many towns until the 19th century. This drumming tradition continued in Naantali through to the beginning of the 20th century. The first Drummer on record in Naantali was 14-year-old Johan Henrikinpoika who was elected to the post in 1725. The last on record was Edward Wilhelm Lindvall, whose repertoire, when ending his drumming career in the 1920s, only extended to news about tax payments and fire inspections.

The Drummer drums again

In 2008 the drumming returned to Naantali. It is performed right before evening vespers ring out from the church tower. The drumming follows a score dating back to the 19th century, and the words used in the messages between drumming sets belong to the Finnish of a hundred years ago.

Back in the day, next to a drummer on a street corner you might have seen sock knitters, but never more than six. But that’s another story...