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Open house, tin melting Sunday at the Cokato Museum
January 3, 2020

Heidi Mirth
Staff Writer

COKATO, MN – It’s been said “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” What better way to start the New Year than by doing exactly that during the Cokato Museum’s 20th annual open house and tin melting demonstration?

“If you’ve never done [tin melting] before, it’s a really interesting experience to try out,” said Museum Director Johanna Ellison.

The event, which is presented by the Cokato Historical Society, along with the Cokato Finnish American Historical Society, will take place Sunday, Jan. 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Centennial Room of the museum. It is free and open to the public, with all ages welcome.

“We get a lot of families [at the event],” Ellison said. “It’s a wide variety of ages that come in.”

The event brings about 40 to 60 people to the museum each year. Many of these have never been to a tin melting before, but there are usually some returning visitors.

“People come back each year because they like the tradition,” Ellison said.

The event is a great way to spend time with friends and family, and learn about the fun and creative tradition of tin melting.

Melting tin to predict the year ahead is an old custom in Finland. It was always done on or around New Year’s Eve, and was a time to gather for some lighthearted fun, as the predictions were meant to be entertaining rather than serious.

Following in this tradition, during the museum’s event tin is melted in a cast-iron ladle over a stove, and then poured into a bucket of cold water, where it instantly solidifies into unique shapes. An interpreter then holds the tin just as it landed in the water, and reads it from left to right like a book, or from January (left) to the end of the year (right) to reveal a personalized fortune for the year ahead.

The various shapes, textures, and degrees of shine in the tin can mean all sorts of different things for the year to come. For example, the longer the tin, the farther a person may travel from home. “Fuzzy” spots can indicate wealth in the form of money, luck, or friendship. Branch shapes portend adventure, while smooth surfaces indicate a stress-free year.

Participants can also learn how to interpret the shadow cast by their tin, by finding faces and shapes in it, which can be especially fun for younger children.

While tin melting may not provide infallible predictions for the year to come, it offers people of all ages a unique way to start off the new year.

For more information about the event, contact the Cokato Museum at 320-286-2427, or visit www.cokatomuseum.org.

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