Independence Day (Finland)

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Independence Day
Observed by Finland
SignificanceThe day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Parliament of Finland
Celebrations Concerts, Balls
Date 6 December
Next time6 December 2019 (2019-12-06)
Related to Declaration of Independence
The flag of Finland Suomen lippu valokuva.png
The flag of Finland

Finland's Independence Day (Finnish : itsenäisyyspäivä, Swedish : självständighetsdagen) is a national public holiday, and a flag day, held on 6 December to celebrate Finland's declaration of independence from Russia in 1917.

Finland Republic in Northern Europe

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland is a country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Finland is a Nordic country and is situated in the geographical region of Fennoscandia. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.

Finnish language language arising and mostly spoken in Finland

Finnish is a Finnic language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. Finnish is one of the two official languages of Finland ; Finnish is also an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both Standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a Finnish dialect, are spoken. The Kven language, a dialect of Finnish, is spoken in Northern Norway by a minority group of Finnish descent.

Swedish language North Germanic language spoken in Sweden

Swedish is a North Germanic language spoken natively by 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden, and in parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing with Finnish. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and to some extent with Danish, although the degree of mutual intelligibility is largely dependent on the dialect and accent of the speaker. Both Norwegian and Danish are generally easier for Swedish speakers to read than to listen to because of difference in accent and tone when speaking. Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It has the most speakers of the North Germanic languages.



The movement for Finland's independence started after the revolutions in Russia, caused by disturbances inside Russia from hardships connected to the First World War. This gave Finland an opportunity to withdraw from Russian rule. After several disagreements between the non-socialists and the social-democrats over who should have power in Finland, on 4 December 1917, the Senate of Finland, led by Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, finally made a Declaration of Independence which was adopted by the Finnish parliament two days later.

Independence condition of a nation, country, or state which exercises self-government, and usually sovereignty, over the territory

Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over the territory. The opposite of independence is the status of a dependent territory.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

The Senate of Finland combined the functions of cabinet and supreme court in the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1816 to 1917 and in the independent Republic of Finland from 1917 to 1918.

Independence Day was first celebrated in 1917. However, during the first years of independence, 6 December in some parts of Finland was only a minor holiday compared to 16 May, the Whites' day of celebration for prevailing in the Finnish Civil War. The left parties would have wanted to celebrate 15 November, because the people of Finland (represented by parliament) took power 15 November 1917. When a year had passed since declaration of independence, 6 December 1918, the academical people celebrated the day. [1]

The Whites, or White Finland, was the name used to refer to the refugee government and forces under Pehr Evind Svinhufvud's first senate who opposed the "Reds", or the Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic, during the Finnish civil war (1918). The forces were initially formed and supported by the paramilitary White Guard, Jäger troops, and other recruitees and draftees, as well as the political right. Separatist-minded from Russia, the Jägers had left to Germany between 1914 and 1917 for military training and returned at eve of the civil war, many already as First World War veterans. They also received military support from the German Empire.

Finnish Civil War 1918 civil war in Finland

The Finnish Civil War was a conflict for the leadership and control of Finland during the country's transition from a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire to an independent state. The clashes took place in the context of the national, political, and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The civil war was fought between the Reds, led by a section of the Social Democratic Party, and the Whites, conducted by the conservative-based Senate and the German Imperial Army. The paramilitary Red Guards, composed of industrial and agrarian workers, controlled the cities and industrial centres of southern Finland. The paramilitary White Guards, composed of farmers, along with middle-class and upper-class social strata, controlled rural central and northern Finland.


During the early decades of independence, occasion marked by patriotic speeches and special church services. From the 1970s onwards, however, Independence Day celebrations have taken livelier forms, with shops decorating their windows in the blue and white of the Finnish flag, and bakeries producing cakes with blue and white icing. [2] Today, rock stars and entertainers have been accepted as worthy interpreters of Finnish patriotism.[ citation needed ]

Flag of Finland national flag

The flag of Finland, also called siniristilippu, dates from the beginning of the 20th century. On a white background, it features a blue Nordic cross, which represents Christianity.

It is traditional for Finnish families to light two candles in each window of their home in the evening. This custom dates to the 1920s; but even earlier, candles had been placed in Finnish windows on poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg's birthday as a silent protest against Russian oppression. A popular legend has it that two candles were used as a sign to inform young Finnish men on their way to Sweden and Germany to become jägers that the house was ready to offer shelter and keep them hidden from the Russians. [3]

Johan Ludvig Runeberg Finnish poet

Johan Ludvig Runeberg was a Finnish lyric and epic poet. He is the national poet of Finland and the author of the lyrics to Vårt land that became the Finnish National Anthem. Runeberg was also involved in the modernization of the Finnish Lutheran hymnal and produced many texts for the new edition.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

State festivities

Student's torch cavalcade on Independence day 2015 Finnish Independence day 2015 01.JPG
Student's torch cavalcade on Independence day 2015

Official Independence Day festivities usually commence with the raising of the Finnish flag on Tähtitorninmäki ("Observatory Hill") in Helsinki. A religious service is held at Helsinki Cathedral, and official visits are made to the war memorials of World War II.[ citation needed ]

Helsinki Capital city in Uusimaa, Finland

Helsinki is the capital and most populous city of Finland. Located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, it is the seat of the region of Uusimaa in southern Finland, and has a population of 650,058. The city's urban area has a population of 1,268,296, making it by far the most populous urban area in Finland as well as the country's most important center for politics, education, finance, culture, and research. Helsinki is located 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 km (250 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 390 km (240 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. It has close historical ties with these three cities.

Helsinki Cathedral Church in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki Cathedral is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral of the Diocese of Helsinki, located in the neighborhood of Kruununhaka in the centre of Helsinki, Finland. The church was originally built from 1830-1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was also known as St Nicholas' Church until the independence of Finland in 1917. It is a major landmark of the city.

Military history of Finland during World War II

Finland participated in the Second World War, twice battling the Soviet Union, and then against Nazi Germany. As relations with the Soviet Union changed during the war, Finland was placed in the unusual situation of being for, then against, then for, the overall interests of the Allied powers.

YLE, Finland's national public service broadcaster, broadcasts the movie adaptation of Tuntematon Sotilas ("The Unknown Soldier"), based on Väinö Linna's iconic novel. [2] In most years, the original 1955 film has been shown (dozens of times) and every year since 2000; but the 1985 version has also been shown once—in 1997.[ citation needed ]

The traditional torch cavalcade by students has been held annually since 1951. [4] The cavalcade is held in various towns and cities with a university and wreaths are placed on war graves.

In the evening, the Presidential Independence Day reception is held for approximately 2000 invited guests at the Presidential Palace. This event, known informally also as Linnanjuhlat ("the Castle Ball"), is broadcast on national television and has been a perennial favourite of the viewing public. The first presidential ball was organized in 1919, and the event has been held most years since. [5]

The reception invariably attracts the attention of demonstrators in support of various causes, [2] and various demonstrations and shadow parties are held to coincide with the official event. The late philanthropist Veikko Hursti organized the most popular of these demonstrations, providing free food to the poor and underprivileged. Since Hursti's death in 2005, the tradition has been carried on by his son, Heikki Hursti. [6]

The most popular television segment of the Independence Day reception is the entrance of the guests. These include persons who receive invitations every year, including the knights of the Mannerheim Cross (traditionally the first ones to enter), members of the government and the Parliament of Finland, archbishops, judges, high military and police officers, and various diplomats and dignitaries. The second group includes guests of the President's own choosing: typically entertainers; activists; sportspersons; and in general, people who have been in the spotlight over the past year. The last guests to enter are always the surviving former Finnish presidents. [7]

90th Anniversary of Finland's Declaration of Independence commemorative coin Independent Finland 90 years 5 euro Obverse.JPG
90th Anniversary of Finland's Declaration of Independence commemorative coin

90th anniversary commemorative coin

The 90th anniversary of Finland's Declaration of Independence was selected as the main motif for a high-value commemorative coin, the €5 90th Anniversary of Finland's Declaration of Independence commemorative coin, minted in 2007. The reverse shows petroglyphic aesthetics, while the obverse has a nine-oar boat with rowers, symbolizing collaboration as a true Finnish trait. Signs of music and Finnish kantele strings can be discerned in the coin's design. [8]

100th anniversary

Erzsebet hid and Gellerthegy - lit in Finland's honour Erzsebet hid and Gellerthegy - lit in Finland's honour.jpg
Erzsébet híd and Gellérthegy – lit in Finland's honour

The centenary of Finland’s independence was celebrated in 2017. The theme was "Together". [9]

Global illuminations

Country, city, site illuminated:

See also

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The Mannerheim Cross of Liberty is the most esteemed Finnish military decoration. The medal, inspired by the Old-Scandinavian Fylfot, was introduced after the Winter War and named after Field Marshal Gustaf Mannerheim. The decoration was awarded to soldiers for exceptional bravery, for the achievement of crucially important objectives by combat, or for especially successfully conducted operations.

Mannerheim Line

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Finnish Declaration of Independence adopted by the Parliament of Finland on 6 December 1917

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1919 Finnish presidential election presidential election in Finland

Indirect presidential elections were held for the first time in Finland in 1919. Although the country had declared Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse King on 9 October 1918, he renounced the throne on 14 December. The President was elected by Parliament, with Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg of the National Progressive Party receiving 71.5% of the 200 votes. Ståhlberg, a moderate, liberal and reformist politician, who favoured improving the material well-being of workers and other economically poor Finns, received the votes of Social Democrats, Agrarians and Progressives. He also firmly supported the new Finnish Republic, and a parliamentary form of government with a strong President as a mediator and a political reserve for politically troubled times. Mannerheim, an independent right-winger and monarchist, suspected the democratic, republican and parliamentary form of government of producing too partisan political leaders, and of working ineffectively during crises. Ståhlberg favoured the signing of peace treaty between Finland and the Soviet Russia, while Mannerheim in the summer of 1919 strongly considered ordering the Finnish army to invade St. Petersburg to help the Russian Whites in that country's civil war. Only the National Coalitioners and Swedish People's Party voted for Mannerheim in this presidential election.

1946 Finnish presidential election

Indirect presidential elections were held in Finland in 1946. In 1944 the Parliament had passed a law that enabled Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim to serve a six-year term. However, he resigned on 4 March 1946, giving as his reason his declining health and his view that the tasks he had been selected to carry out had been accomplished. An election was held in Parliament to appoint his successor. Juho Kusti Paasikivi was elected with 159 of the 200 votes. Mannerheim had suffered from poor health since 1945, and he had vacationed abroad from November 1945 to January 1946. He had been concerned about the possibility of being indicted for abusing his office as the Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish army when approving of Finland's participation in the Continuation War (1941–1944) against the Soviet Union, and in an informal military alliance with Germany. He was not indicted, but eight leading wartime Finnish politicians were, and Mannerheim stayed abroad, mainly in Portugal, and on sick leave in the Red Cross's hospital in Helsinki from November 1945 to March 1946, to remain on the political background during the "war guilt" trial. Paasikivi was regarded by many Finnish politicians as the only realistic successor of Mannerheim, given his long diplomatic and foreign policy experience. Because many Karelian refugees would not yet have been able to vote in regular Finnish presidential elections until the autumn of 1946, due to their frequent changes of home town, the Finnish Parliament decided to pass an exceptional law to elect the new President. Former President K.J. Ståhlberg was not an official presidential candidate, but he received 14 sympathy votes in these presidential elections, because a few Finnish parliamentarians respected his preference for regular presidential elections.

This is an timeline of the Independence of Finland. Timeline starts from February Revolution and ends with membership of the League of Nations. Events take place in Saint Petersburg and Finland.

Independence Day Reception (Finland) event organised annually by the President of Finland

The Independence Day Reception is an annual event organised by the President of Finland at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on 6 December, Finland's Independence Day. Invitations are sent out for members of parliament, communal and business representatives, and other people who distinguished themselves in the year related to arts, sports, science etc.


  1. Kolbe, Laura (2011). "Linnan juhlia vuodesta 1919". Tiede (in Finnish). Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Snyder, Russell (2011). "Finns celebrate freedom every December". Finland. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  3. "Gunwriters". P. T. Kekkonen. Retrieved 12 May 2006.
  4. "Ylioppilaiden soihtukulkue jatkoi itsenäisyyden juhlintaa". Hämeen sanomat. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  5. "History of the Independence Day reception at the Presidential Palace". The Office of the President of the Republic of Finland. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  6. "Finnish Independence Day". Yle. 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  7. Rautiainen, Riitta (2004). "The President's Independence Day Reception". University of Tampere. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  8. "List of Finland Collectors' Coins". Mint of Finland. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  10. FI SV EN Almost 30 countries and 50 sites The world congratulates the 100-year-old Finland by lighting up in blue and white 20171207

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