Finland Independence Day 2019

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06 Dec

Today marks Finland's Independence Day (itsenäisyyspäivä) and it’s a national public holiday across the country. The date marks its declaration of independence from Russia in 1917 and it’s celebrated in a number of ways.

The day blends solemnity and enjoyment. In Helsinki, students wearing traditional white caps and carrying torches walk from Hietaniemi Cemetery to Senate Square. There are church services, patriotic music, speeches, visits to cemeteries and war memorial tributes.

Blue and white is the colour theme of the day. Blue and white flags are on display, it’s custom for bakeries to sell blue and white goods and for people to place blue and white candles in their windows. Often people sit down to the legendary film The Unknown Soldier, a story based on Väinö Linna’s novel about the Second World War.

Interestingly, it’s also Jean Sibelius’ birthday on Sunday. The famous Finnish composer was married to the talented Aino Sibelius who devised the sauna they used to frequent, designed the furniture and created the exceptional garden at their Ainola home near Helsinki. 
Jean Sibelius

 

Sauna also gets its own specific day in Helsinki. An annual event sees the capital celebrate sauna day which first took place on March 14th 2016. Each year private saunas across the city open their doors to the public allowing them to enjoy the communal and relaxing ritual in an interesting venue they’ve perhaps not been to before.