Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Finnish Independence Day!

On December 6, 1917, Lenin gave Finland their independence from Russia. This year marked the 89th anniversary of Finnish Independence. Instead of wild celebrations like the U.S. Independence Day, the Finnish Independence Day is more solemn, remembering the war dead, especially those during WWII when the Russians invaded Finland again, kicking them out of the eastern region called Karelia. The relationship between Russia, Finland, and Germany is quite complex. See this link for more details.

When I was asking people what I should do on Independence Day, I got the answer "kalsarikanni," which literally translated means "sitting around in your long underwear drinking" (as if I didn't understand what that meant, they qualified it by saying, "like Homer Simpson"). Now, I ended up being invited to a small dinner party and I didn't wear my long underwear. They had prepared a sauna, but by the time we finished cooking red curry chicken and tossed salad, there was no time left.

After dinner, the Finns typically sit around and watch the Presidential Ball (very near to where I live). Most of the ball is spent watching the President shake hands with important Finns as they enter the ball and commenting on their wardrobe. Since most people are ministers or business people (very few models and rock stars), it's not exactly like watching the red carpet entrances at the Oscars or Grammies.

On the walk home, the Senate House and church were lit up very nicely. See the attached images.


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