Today is Independence Day (Itsenäisyyspäivä) in Finland. Last year was the centennial, which was a huge celebration. This year things are a bit darker, because it’s now 100 years since the brief but bloody Finnish civil war. No longer a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire, there was disagreement (to put it far too mildly) over what direction and form the new government should take. Most Finns I know, sanely enough, seem to look back with an attitude of “let’s not do that again” as they watch other countries tear themselves apart over partisan politics.
Flags are flown. War movies are show on TV. In the afternoon there is a sensible parade, only about 30 minutes long. Because it’s Thursday I’ll be making pea soup and pancakes for dinner. Finns traditionally eat pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays. It’s a whole thing. Look it up.
Finnish Independence Day 2018
In the evening is Linnanjuhlat, the Castle Ball, which takes place at the Presidential Palace. In the 19th century it was constructed to be the official Finnish residence of the Russian Tsar. During the revolution and World War I it was used as a military hospital, and following independence it became the residence of most (but not all) Presidents. Like the American White House, it’s less of an actual palace now and more of an office building with a few apartments and a ballroom.
The Castle Ball is like the Finnish Oscars. There’s a red carpet, where people are greeted by the President and the First Lady. People throw parties where they sit at home just to watch the reception — and it goes on for hours. Seriously. It’s fun because you get to see celebrities and ordinary people, all dressed up. People who have received knighthoods enter first, followed by government officials, military and police officers. Next come other notable Finns, from entertainers to school teachers, activists to scientists. The last people to enter are past Presidents. Then the live entertainment begins, and continues until around midnight.
Because our scheduled are packed for the next few days, we recorded this weekend’s podcast today as well. We talk more about celebrating Finnish Independence, and what independence means to us as creators and entrepreneurs. Check it out right here this Sunday.