Finland’s 100 years of independence
Finland is today marking 100th anniversary as an independent state and Contador Harrison is joining Finns all over the world in the celebration. Finland was part of Sweden for six centuries until 1809 when it became a Russian Grand Duchy until 1917 after the fall of the Tsarist Russian empire. Finland became an independent state on December 6 1917 after events in early December 1917 where its own Parliament and a Senate which acted as a government saw on December 4th, the then Finland’s Senate Chairman Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, in effect the country’s Prime Minister, presented Parliament with a proposal for Finland to be declared an independent republic and two days later, on December 6th, Parliament adopted the declaration. Soviet Union recognized Finland’s independence in 1918, although Finland had to fight off its eastern neighbor during the winter of 1939-1940, and again from June 1941 to September 1944 to avoid being occupied by the Soviets.According to the 1947 Treaty of Paris that recognized Finland’s defeat at the end of World War II, and ordered Finland to pay substantial war reparations to the USSR and ceded 10% of its territory permanently, the eastern part of Karelia.This years Finland’s Independence Day has been preceded by both traditional and new festivities over several days. Most of the official celebrations are taking place in the capital city, Helsinki, but there are many other unique moments all over Finland. The Finnish flag is flying for two consecutive days, and the whole country will be illuminated with blue and white lights, the colours of Finland. For the last 100 years, Finland brand has given the world many iconic things, such as Nokia phones, sauna, Angry Birds and wife-carrying. When it comes to music, your blogger appreciates Ville Virtanen aka Darude he of the ‘Sandstorm’ fame and undoubtedly Lordi who eleven years ago won the Eurovision Song Contest. Your blogger who has strong connections to Finnish society, is joining the world in celebrating independence celebration.It is a day being celebrated with blue and white light shows across Finland and plenty of other countries around the world. The excitement has been gathering pace up to the last few days, and publicly available information shows that iconic venues and buildings across the world will be illuminated with blue and white lights in honour of the country’s centenary of independence including Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and the Niagara Falls in Canada, the Colosseum in Rome, Adelaide Town Hall in Australia among others.Also, special monuments and Finland locations like entire fell, Saana in Lapland, has been lit up.
As one of my Finn friend told me yesterday, it is undoubtedly the most significant commemorative independence celebration for the current generation of Finnish people. I could tell from all my Finns friends, the enthusiasm to mark the country’s 100th birthday with blue-and-white light shows has been significant. Finland 100 and the network of Finnish embassies have been collaborating with partners in a number of countries to ensure that Finland’s big moment is visible around the world today. YLE, the Finnish broadcaster is today airing the unforgettable moments from the illuminated venues on TV and is also streaming them online on YLE Areena, and also posting them on social media.The 100-year-old Finland story is extraordinary and rests on the values cherished by the Finns like democracy, education, equality and freedom of speech. The newly born state was willed into being by Finns after a long struggle. For a hundred years the Finns have been engaged in the building of their country and making decisions together. Government officials said yesterday that the story of the 100-year-old Finland is unique and deserves a special celebration and the centenary of independence is the most significant anniversary of the current generation. This epic year has been built in a unique and open way, together with the whole of society, Finns and friends of Finland, in more than 100 countries. Finland 100 has become a phenomenon, the centenary has been celebrated throughout the year. Four out of five Finns think it is important to participate in the centennial year and more than 600,000 people equivalent to 14% of all 15-84-year-old Finns were involved in creating the centenary year programme.Finland’s centenary has become the richest and most versatile anniversary or theme year of all time in Finland. The centenary programme, with more than 5,000 projects has spread to more than 100 countries on all the continents. The open programme, its magnitude and the way the projects have been carried out are unique and of international scale. Happy Independence day to all my Finn friends, Vive La Finland!