Finland Celebrates 100 Year of Independence

December 6 is a date of immense national important to Finland: it is the one hundredth anniversary of the country’s independence from Russia, and the day will be marked by Finns the world over with celebration.

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Finland became an independent country on the 6th of December 1917. Finland declared its independence during the revolution of the Russian empire in the midst of the first world war. The emperor of Russia fell during the Russian revolution of 1917, and the country was taken over by the Bolsheviks. The leader of Bolsheviks, Vladimir Lenin, acknowledged Finland’s independence in 1918. Sweden followed the same year, and the United States acknowledged Finland’s independence a year later in 1919. Immediately following  independence, Finland went through a devastating civil war from January to May in 1918.

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War veterans are remembered on Independence Day in Finland.

On numerous occasions since the declaration of independence, Finland has had to fight to keep its independence. During WWII, the Winter War and Continuation War against the Soviet Union led to territorial losses, but they solidified the national character: Sisu. Sisu is a symbol of Finnish character and represents stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness. “To have guts” may be the best English translation of the beloved Finnish character trait.

The theme for the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence is “Together.” Together the Finnish nation has had celebratory programs throughout 2017, including a film adaptation of the cherished novel about the Continuation War against the Soviet Union, The Unknown Soldier, by Väinö Linna. Another film is about the biggest athletic achievement in Finnish history, the World Championship of Hockey in 1995, which was the Finland’s first international hockey championship and a source of national pride.

Finland traditionally celebrates its independence with a similar program every year. The day starts with a ceremonial flag-raising. This is followed by a Liturgical celebration, and the giving of medals and promotions for the Finnish Army forces, which holds celebratory parades a variety of cities that include a flyover by the Finnish Air Force.

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A big tradition in every Finnish home is to visit the graves of family members, light a candle on the grave and have a moment of silence to pay respect. Another big tradition in every home is to watch the reception of The Castle Ball, where the Finnish President receives every one invited to the Ball and shakes their hand. Guests include the government officials, members of parliament, ambassadors, war veterans, athletes and artists. This Castle Ball is also known as a very popular “fashion show,” as commentators evaluate the fashions worn by the invitees. All of this is traditionally concluded by watching the popular movie about the  Continuation War, The Unknown Soldier.

This article was written by Santeri Hartikainen ‘18, who was born and raised in Finland. He plans to celebrate Independence Day by having a traditional Finnish meal with other Northwood students at the home of a local family with Finnish roots.

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