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Finland's Birthday Back-slapping Finland's Birthday Back-slapping
by Asa Butcher
2007-12-06 10:32:35
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On May 1st earlier this year, the United Kingdom celebrated the 300th anniversary of the 1707 Acts of Union that merged the Scots Parliament and the English Parliament to form the Parliament of Great Britain and a single Kingdom of Great Britain. It is strange to think that at the time of this significant unification, Finland was in its infancy, often acting as a battleground between Sweden and Russia, and it wouldn't be until 210 years later that the Finns could claim independence.

However, they did finally win independence, a claim that can also be made by 32 other countries since 1990, many of which, like Finland, were freed from Russian rule, albeit thanks to the dissolution of the USSR. If you read Hank W.'s interesting article about Finland's struggle for independence you will discover the process was not easy and a mere 52 days later a Civil War began.

Today Finland will look back over its 90 years of independence and revel in its accomplishments, boast of recent survey results placing Finnish students among the top performers in Science, Mathematics and Literacy in the OECDs PISA survey of knowledge and skills, and generally slap one another on the back for a job well done – yes, Finland's Speaker of Parliament Sauli Niinistö did lead MPs and other dignitaries in three cheers for independent Finland, although they did stop short of a Mexican Wave around the chamber.

The eight parliamentary group leaders each gave a speech detailing their visions of Finland's future, along with concerns over the level of basic services and the decline in voter turnout. Here at Ovi we are concerned about a number of issues in the country, one being the environmental hypocrisy that Thanos outlined in his article earlier this week and another being the silence following the November 7th Jokela school shooting – there is a far-deeper problem among Finland's youth that needs serious attention.

Anyway, today is about celebration - you can read our opinions on all those issues and more Tomorrow – and the biggest event today is the President’s Independence Day Reception broadcast live on YLE1 from 1850. If you have never watched one then tune in this year to watch President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen and her husband Dr. Pentti Arajärvi welcome privileged guests to the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

The President’s Independence Day Reception is the Finnish fashion equivalent to the Academy Awards' Red Carpet, with the television commentators giving us a cat walk rundown (in Finnish, of course) of the success and embarrassments parading in front of us. It is a great opportunity for newcomers to Finland to receive a crash course in who's who, since all members of Government, Finnish MEPs, senior civil servants, members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Finland and Finns who have distinguished themselves have been invited – approximately 1,900 guests in all.

Guests at the reception will be offered a traditional buffet (sadly no cheese, pineapple and pickled onions on sticks) that represents Finnish food culture from different regions and will be entertained by the Guards' Band conducted by Chief Conductor of the Finnish Defence Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Harri Saksa, Chief of the Guards Band, Major Elias Seppälä, and Senior Lieutenant Sami Hannula. The Guards’ Band's Combo ensemble will perform in the State Hall with Antti Koivula as vocal soloist.

Before I offer my birthday greeting, may I ask why the Finnish Ministry of Finance has minted a 100€ golden collector coin in honour of the 90th anniversary? Will they mint a 110€ coin for the 100th anniversary? Oh well, happy 90th birthday Finland and here's to the next ten years.


    
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Simon2007-12-06 11:12:23
Cheese, pineapple and pickled onions on sticks!

Those were the days...


Eva2007-12-06 13:23:23
I'm listening to Sibelius' Finlandia right now, counting the days until I am back home.. 33 days.


Clint2007-12-06 14:59:55
If Greece is Grandpapa and the UK is Uncle Bertie that makes Finland the adolescent Teenagers and every parent knows how troublesome they can be! Anyway Happy Birthday Finland at least the candles on the cake will warm you all up a bit.


Thanos2007-12-07 13:11:38
Eva, send a mail!!! :)


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