Due to public demand I have decided to ask my darling wife, Päivi, to translate these articles into Finnish, so now each and every reader of this great paper can enjoy my strange thoughts and opinions on a variety of English and Finnish topics.
To be honest Päivi was not very happy about this task because I had chosen our four-year engagement anniversary to do the job. I understand that this was not the most romantic gesture a husband can present to the woman of his heart, but I am sure she will have forgiven me by next September.
Husbands have an obligation not to forget two dates in a woman’s life, her birthday and your wedding anniversary. For those of us who want extra points from our wives we remember to mark the day you met and proposed, while those who want to become Man of the Year simply buy flowers for no reason at all.
There is another date in the Finnish diary that may come as a shock to somebody from England. For me and other men married to a girl named either Päivi, Päivikki or Päivä we have to watch out for June 16th – their name day. My first experience with name days began when cards began magically appearing on a shelf in our lounge, after a few days my curiosity peaked and I asked: “What are they for? It’s not your unofficial birthday, is it?”
One explanation later and I was asking whether I should get her a card, Päivi’s answer chilled me to the bone: “You don’t have to get me a card.” Before I knew it I was looking at the unimpressive card selection in R-Kioski confused by all the alien words printed upon them: “Hmm, osanottomme? Ei, ehkä Vauva! Would be better.” I believe that was the day when I started to dislike the idea of name day and then I hated it even more when my name did not have a special day.
Celebrating the fact that you have a name is a little weird to me, but Finland does seem to enjoy marking as many days as possible every year by raising the Blue and White flag up those many flag poles. From May to July flags appear to go up and down more times than the lift in Näsinneula, but then they just stop. Finns have to wait nearly 100 days until they can dust off their flag and set in dancing in the wind for Aleksis Kivi day.
Personally I think Finland’s flag days are a great source of patriotism and celebration of the country. The town and cities have an air of dignity when there are dozens of flags flying from their poles or hanging down from a building. In England there are 21 official days when it is required, by command of the Queen, that government buildings fly the Union Flag. The St. Georges Cross (similar to Finland’s but with a red cross) is only officially flown on April 23rd, which is to celebrate the patron saint of England.
Everyday anniversaries, birthdays and celebrations happen across the world but have you ever stopped to think about some closer to home? This year Finnair celebrates three events; 80 years ago on September 12th the charter for Aero O/Y was signed; 50-years ago the name Finnair was adopted; and 35-years ago Finnair became its official name. Dear readers, please raise your glass to Koskenkorva, who is 50 this year. Hyvää syntymäpäivä!
Written in September 2003