The internet phenomenon

Loituma is best known for one song in particular. Ievan polkka (Ieva’s polka), arranged for four singers, was first performed in May 27, 1992 in Anita’s graduation concert. Although the song was performed extensively, it was almost omitted from Loituma’s first album in 1995. In 2006, a meme called Loituma Girl (pictured above), started to spread wildly on the internet. Since then Ievan polkka has delightened millions of listeners around the globe. Several misspelled versions of the song’s name can be found, the most common being Levan polka and Ievan’s polka. The origin of the meme is explained in English on the Know Your Meme website.

Ievan polkka’s widespread success is due to the ease of the melody, the catchiness of the rhythm and the language, which sounds fun and exotic to international listeners. This piece has become a cross-generational and language-crossing experience. Ievan polkkas expansive reach has attracted more attention towards Finland and the rich Finnish folk music culture. Ievan polkka has also made people interested in studying the Finnish language.

The members of Loituma are very happy with the attention that Ievan polkka has received. For information on good copyright practices, please post a message on the Contact page.

Author information and other facts

Ievan polkka is a folk tune known since the end of the 18th century, especially in Southeast Finland. The melody also appears under the name Savitaipaleen polkka. The lyrics published in 1928 are written by Eino Kettunen (1894-1964). In the first recording (1937) Matti Jurva used this text, but a whole different melody.

Loituma’s a cappella (without musical instruments) arrangement uses some words and syllables formed from the text as the accompaniment. Hanni’s solo part is formed with random, improvised syllables, that have no meaning.

Ievan polkka has been recorded many times since 1937, and more information about this can be found e.g. from Wikipedia. On Hanni’s YouTube channel there are videos with Hanni and Timo talking in English about Loituma’s history and their Ievan polkka arrangement.


Loituma has released three videos of Ievan polkka, of which the live performance from Hanni’s birthday concert was released in 2019, the 2021 “covid version” and the 2024 version made by film director Elina Oikari (link coming). All of these can be found on Hanni Autere’s YouTube channel.

The most watched Ieva video on YouTube is a version copied from YLE TV2 program from 1996. In addition, Loituma performs in a live video filmed in the US in 2006 and a TV show called Aprés Ski Hits 2007 filmed in Austria. The Ievan polkka tutorials that Hanni has made, have been viewed 1,3 million times by the end of 2023.

Altogether, different versions performed by Loituma and others have been viewed hundreds of millions of times.

New Ievan polkka video on YouTube!

The video is directed and written by filmmaker Elina Oikari. It was shooted in Mäntsälä, Southern Finland. This beautiful horse is called Tuohivirsu and Hanni got to steer, for the first time in her life.

The story and translation

In short: The lyrics form a story about Ieva (the female name “Eeva” in standard Finnish) and a boy who has a crush on her. The boy is the narrator of this song about the delight of dancing the polka. Ieva and the boy sneak away from Ieva’s mother, who disapproves of the young people’s actions. The boy swears to stick with Ieva, come what may. He even threatens Ieva’s mother, but all this is told in humorous Savonian dialect, with mischievous and hilarious touch. The chorus is a funny-sounding rhyme, the syllables of which do not form any Finnish words, except for the last word: hilijalleen (gradually or slowly).

Here is the story verse by verse, roughly translated by Hanni.

1. There is a sound of polka rhythm drifting from the neighbour (it might be Ieva’s house where people have gathered to dance). The lad says his feet long for dance. Ieva has her mother guarding her, but Ieva fools her and gets to dance with the lad. He’s saying: ”We don’t care about any restrictions when we are dancing all over the floor”.

2. Ieva is smiling widely as people wish her good luck. (Not sure, but maybe ’cause they had noticed the young fine lad being interested in her and people look at her with an implying gaze.) Everybody has their hair wet from sweating on the dance floor, and the fiddle is howling and wailing. In the end the lad says: ”I don’t mind being wet when dancing to and fro”.

3. Well, now Ieva’s mother is singing hymns in her own room (she probably didn’t like the idea of having a ball in her house). In the meantime the lad is wooing Ieva in the room next door (having a break from dancing). And the lad says that he doesn’t care about what any old women say as long as he can dance.

4. ”We had fun after the dancing, and I got to canoodle once”. (It’s not obvious what Kettunen is saying here, but he might be alluding to something intimite happening after the dancing.) When they get home, Ieva’s mother is angry and Ieva starts to weep. The lad says: ”I told Ieva that it doesn’t matter and we’ll be dancing again”.

5. The lad continues: ”I told the mother: you shut your mouth, or else I won’t guarantee your health. You’ll stay healthy if you grab your bones and have a rest in your room”. He also tells that he doesn’t care for being so gentle when he’s taking the ladies all over the dance floor.

6. The lad is speaking to Ieva’s mother: ”I’ll tell you, you need to chew, ’cause I’m not to be swallowed just like that. (meaning that he won’t give up easily.) You can go from east to west, but I’m not giving up Ieva.” And he continues: ”For this lad doesn’t care for being too modest, when dancing to and fro”.

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