Finland turns 100!
Finland declared its independence from the Russian Empire shortly after the October Revolution, on December 6, 1917. The Finns celebrated the country's centennial this year with a series of events under the theme "Together". Today, for example, the people have been invited to mark the occasion by drinking coffee together at 2 p.m. The press takes an in-depth look at the mood in Finland.
War wounds not yet healed
The wounds left by war still have a major influence on the Finnish mentality today, Finnish journalist Yrsa Grüne writes in Svenska Dagbladet:
“The wars created the context that continues to shape the way the Finns see themselves and their history. ... In the past week, as the anniversary of the day on which the Soviet Union invaded Finland without declaring war in 1939 drew closer, a monument commemorating the Winter War was unveiled. Then on Independence Day on December 6, special commemorative ceremonies will be held in many places at the heroes' graves. 7,000 young men will be posted as guards of honour. ... It's only natural to look back. Nevertheless some also worry that even after 100 years of independence Finland still has its eyes so fixed on the past that it can't look ahead.”
A new Finnish character trait emerging
The Finns' joyous attitude throughout the centennial year stands in marked contrast to the state ceremony planned for December 6, Keskisuomalainen writes in delight:
“In the run-up to the official independence celebrations we've heard the classic question again and again: what does Finland's independence mean to you? And the solemn, weighty question was generally answered in the same fashion, with solemn, weighty words. ... Nevertheless on this 100th anniversary there's also been a refreshing, new attitude. The Finns have celebrated it in many different ways, and joy and a sense of fun have played a central role. ... Especially for the younger generations it goes without saying that our independence is a cause for joy. And of course that doesn't detract from the acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by the war generations.”
A unique community instinct
Estonian composer Jüri Reinvere praises the Finns' sense of community in the cultural paper Sirp:
“Notwithstanding the mutual poking of fun between our two countries - which also includes much mutual admiration - there's a lot we can learn from the Finns. ... They're unrivalled when it comes to their sense of solidarity with each other - something the Estonians are almost completely lacking. The Finns' international success in the areas of art, design and architecture reflects this solidarity. The Finns have a social instinct for taking action together and ignoring the rest when there's something they want to accomplish. ... That also goes for politics: as soon as the state is weakened, they all pull in the same direction to help it regain strength. And they do it instinctively rather than in response to any order by the state.”