Finns often tend to point out – kind of apologizing – how seriously we approach the independence and the Independence Day. It’s a matter of serious respect instead of carnival, funny outfits or fireworks. One argument for the lack of jolliness is of course the time of the year. One of the darkest days of the year – and in most cases cold or wet.
Being a descendant of two families who had to leave their homes on the Karelian Isthmus during the World War II and having never seen my grandfather who died at the front, the Independence Day has always been closer to giving thought and respect to the sufferings of previous generations.
I guess the traditions will change as the generations pass by. And they also should change; new generations, new times, new ways to celebrate the independence. After all Independence is a wonderful thing to have. "
Being privileged to have been born in Finland -for a woman one of the absolute best places and times in history- I celebrate 100 years of my country and it’s singers, writers, freedom fighters, risk takers and peace makers.
I celebrate freedom of thinking, talking and creating, living, loving and learning, or just chilling out on a summer night’s immense silence by a lakeside sauna.
I wish the centenarian –Maiden of Finland- enlightened respect for the past, vital and vibrant future in today’s global world - with evermore Santa Claus, Sibelius and ‘sisu’!
Since I moved abroad, my Finnish-identity, -language and -culture has become extremely important to me. It is a privilege to introduce myself as a Finnish person; I am Finnish, I am positively Finnish. We are trusted, reliable and have a good reputation wherever we go.
Finns experience their independence day as a somber event. Our customs and celebratory events are very different to other across the world. Where some countries have festivals and fares, letting of fireworks, we reflect.
With such a small population speaking our language and practicing our culture, I find our Finnish ways precious! I am very proud to get one year older along with the Independent Finland.
Independence means freedom, identity of one nation as united together. I feel I have a place that I can truly call home, and where my family derives from. This I feel even now when I am living in the Netherlands. Both of my grandfathers were also war veterans.
Although I now live abroad, I know I will be always proud to tell people of where I come from, to describe how Finland is, about its nature, and to care about its issues. Language is one thing which makes me specially proud: only 4,9 million people can speak it. Luckily Finland and The Netherlands are not that far away from each other! "
When Finland celebrated its 75th anniversary, a book was published with the title “Juuret Suomessa” – “Roots in Finland”. It was the result of a world-wide storytelling contest for Finns living abroad. The contributions were brief poems reflecting peoples relationship to the Old Country. Many of them were heartbreaking in their simplicity and accuracy.
Although most of us feel at home also in our new environment, we always carry memories and visions of the past – our roots. Regardless of our passport and official nationality we are all unique individuals formed by our genes and experiences. We should be proud of our history and greatful to our ancestors who have worked and fought for our independence. In an increasingly complicated world, we should remember: freedome is not for free, it is a fragile phenomenon that must be respected and fostered.
Below one of the poems (Juuret Suomessa, Otava, 1991, ISBN 951-1-12211-8)
Luulin itseni vapaaksi lähtemään.
Ja kuitenkin -
Jäi pala naurua, jäi pala elämää.
Koskaan emme lähteneet kokonaan.
Our free translation:
I thought I felt free to leave.
Free to forget.
Bits of laugh, bits of life stayed behind.
We never left entirely.
It goes without saying in Finland.
Earlier this year newspaper Helsingin Sanomat published an article on their website in which the author explained in detail how he had been able to have his tires installed on new rims in a garage in Helsinki with hardly uttering a word. It goes without saying that he skipped all unnecessary words such as "hello" or "goodbye" which can, in any case, be replaced by a nod - or not. Intriguingly, he had managed to omit pretty much all the other words as well thanks to the Finnish staff at the garage who understands customers' needs without unnecessary underlining. True art of silence from native Finnish non-speakers!
The article reminded me of the good old times at the beginning of this millennium when I could go to a pub in Helsinki and arrange myself a pint of beer by using one single word. Once I had walked to the bar counter, the conversation with the bar tender went like this: "Kerro!" (Tell!) - "Stobe." (Pint.) - "Neljä." (Four.). In more a international tone, the same exchange of words would have gone: "How can I serve you?" - "One pint please." - "Four euros please.". Naturally, and I mean that literally, it is natural to many of us, we again omitted the unnecessary small talk like "hello", "here you are" and "thank you". (It goes without saying that the word "please" does not even exist in the Finnish language. Being so evident, I decided to write this entire sentence in brackets.) I still dream of the day when the whole ordering process goes without saying.
Anyhow, this story would not suit to this website without saying a word about independence. So, here it comes. Independence is a wonderful thing to have because - among many other benefits - it makes it possible for us to embrace and maintain all our national peculiarities, and permits us to be exactly as stingy with words as we are. And that's great. It goes without saying.