Itsenäisyyspäivä (Independence day)
Independence Day is one of the most ceremonial and popularly loved national holidays in Finland. Independence Day (Itsenäisyyspäivä) is celebrated annually on the 6TH of December This day is considered the country’s national day and flag day. Until 1917, Finland was the Grand Duchy of Finland, which was part of the Russian Empire. On the 4th of December in 1917, the Finnish Senate signed the country’s Declaration of Independence, which was approved by parliament two days later.
Festive events begin with the official ceremony of raising the national flag at 9 a.m. on Tähtitornimäki hill in the centre of Helsinki and are traditionally accompanied by speeches and songs.
In cities, parades of the country’s military forces are held, marches and processions are organized. National flags are hoisted over houses and institutions, and many Finns decorate their houses with them and hang them on windows.
At noon, an ecumenical service with the participation of the President of the Republic and members of the State Council takes place at the Helsinki Cathedral (St. Nicholas Cathedral), which is broadcast live on TV.
In the evening, student associations of the capital region conduct a traditional torchlight procession of students, starting from the Hietaniemi cemetery and ending at Senate Square at about 6 pm. The presidential couple will greet students from the balcony of the Presidential Palace.
One of the main events of this day is the gala reception of the President of Finland at his residence of famous Finns, as well as foreign citizens who have done something useful for Finland in the past year. For decades, reception has been broadcast on television, and the television broadcast rating has for many years been the highest in Finland among all television programs.
On the 6th of December, it is customary to light two blue and white candles in the windows of their houses from 18 to 20 pm. The exact source of the tradition is unknown. According to one version, this is a tradition since Swedish times, and candles were lit on memorable days for the royal family or on the days of the king’s visit to Finland.
This holiday is also celebrated in Kouvola. A service is held in the church, flowers are laid at memorials, a solemn holiday is being held in the city administration. This year, due to the pandemic, the holiday will of course be celebrated, but not on the same scale as last year.
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