FINNS CELEBRATE FREEDOM EVERY DECEMBER
One of Finland’s most inspiring celebrations arrives every year on December 6: Independence Day. (Try pronouncing it in Finnish:Itsenäisyyspäivä.) The country became independent in 1917. Our American reporter recounts his experiences of the holiday.
What I find interesting about this holiday is the combination of solemnity and enjoyment. For example, on the serious side, you have patriotic speeches, visits to cemeteries, tributes at war memorials and special church services. Wearing their traditional white caps and carrying torches, students in Helsinki start at Hietaniemi Cemetery walk to Senate Square, where they listen to speeches and music. The President awards medals and decorations to several thousand people for outstanding achievements.
On a lighter note, people place blue and white candles in their windows, bakeries sell blue and white pastries, shops are adorned with blue and white decorations and there are blue and white flags on display everywhere. On TV, you can hear patriotic music, listen to lively discussions and watch the legendary film The Unknown Soldier, an emotional story based on Väinö Linna’s eponymous novel about the Second World War.