100th year of Finland’s Independence

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While writing this it is still December 6, the day of Finnish Independence from the Russian Empire, then Soviet Union. 100 years is pretty good and the country has been celebrating the entire year with events spread throughout the country marking the centenary.

I didn’t think about writing about this as I felt it was not my place in just two years to write anything that the world didn’t already know (or could Google) about Finland (I mean apart from the No. 1’s) and history is not my strong suit. Then, as I walked around the city since the celebrations began last evening, it was heart-warming in the cold winter to see people flock to the Square even in the snowy, cold and windy conditions!  That’s when I felt the spirit of TOGETHERNESS tied in. The theme of the centenary celebrations is TOGETHER, which not only includes the Finns but also friends of Finland, I guess that means me!

suomi3Year-on-year the much awaited event on Finnish Independence day is the Independence Day Reception at the Presidential Palace, whose guest list not only has the who’s who of Finland (granting bragging rights) but also war  veterans. While the parade at the President’s party provides fodder to best and worst dressed, it also places the invitees on the Social and Economic ladders. There are pre-event parties and post event parties and then, I am only guessing, parties to discuss all of the parties. You get the gist, it’s a glitzy affair.


On a serious note, what I like most about the Finnish Independence day is the lighting of blue and white candles. Traditionally Finns light two candles on each window of the house and I sat today by mine, watching candles lit, on many window sills in the neighborhood – flames flickering and flags fluttering in front of the apartment buildings (the Finnish national flag).  As per tradition, at 6 PM candles are lit and placed in the windows to remember those who have died fighting for the motherland, as a show of patriotism.  The candles symbolize a silent protest against Russian oppression. During the war, it was also a signal for sheltering Finnish soldiers from the Russian military.


It is touching to hear and see various posts of friends remembering family members who fought during the wars, some as young as 17 and 18 on the front lines – grand-parents, parents, siblings, honoring their memory in what is the true essence of the Independent Finland. Others, savoring the humble meals of those hard times. The Story of Finland, an exhibition at the National Museum of Finland is worth a visit. To quote the website, “Never before has the story of Finland’s independent years been told in such a touching way. The exhibition will play at the heartstrings of both Finns and visitors from abroad.” It surely had a very emotional effect on me.






On a brighter note, the city is a sea of blue and white with traditional marches from the cemetery, honoring the war heroes, to the senate square with a sea of students in their white caps and torches followed by speeches and singing of the national anthem – the elderly and kids being the loudest!

The world too turned blue and white for a while. Check out various monuments around the world celebrating with Finland.

















Tulip is an aspiring photographer (#walkanddiscoverfinland), yoga practitioner and future entrepreneur, with an insatiable appetite for learning and a perpetual WIP. In the process of listing sailing and the finnish language as her superpowers. Currently, a shiny brick in the wall, seeking divine intervention! Tulip has recently married and moved to Helsinki, Finland – Europe.

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