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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Finland Series at FinnishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Finnish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 5. Independence Day. In Finnish, it’s called Itsenäisyyspäivä.
Finland gained its independence on December 6, 1917, the day that is currently recognized as Finland’s “Independence Day”. As a sovereign country, Finland was preceded by the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. Nowadays, Independence Day is a solemn day with many traditions, which will be the focus of this lesson.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Do you know when the first Independence Day celebrations organized by the President of Finland were held?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On the morning of Independence Day, the Finnish flag, or Suomen lippu, is solemnly hoisted both at homes and at public locations. A general church service is held at the Helsinki Cathedral, and is attended by the president of the Republic of Finland, the Government and the members of the parliament. Many take the opportunity to visit military cemeteries to commemorate the fallen. University students organize torch processions and also visit cemeteries. In Helsinki, the processions end at the Senate Square, where an open-air celebration is held. The ceremony includes speeches and performances of patriotic songs by male choirs.
The Finnish Defense Forces organize an annual Independence Day parade in various cities. It is a large military parade, or sotilasparaati, where various units march with their vehicles and tanks. Usually a fly-over by the Finnish Air Force is included in the parade. A special Independence Day party is organized for the disadvantaged in Helsinki, where they receive a free lunch and clothing. The movie "Unknown Soldier", in Finnish “Tuntematon sotilas”, directed by Edvin Laine about the war between Finland and the Soviet Union, is broadcast as part of the annual traditions.
In homes, Independence Day is celebrated peacefully, but solemnly. Two blue and white candles are lit in windows to celebrate independence while families eat festive food and watch the Independence Day celebrations on TV. The highlight of the evening is the live televised Independence Day reception, or itsenäisyyspäivän vastaanotto, at the Presidential Palace. The guests invited to the Palace are among the most famous and distinguished people in Finland, ambassadors of different countries and a selected group of ordinary citizens. The women invited to the Presidential Palace invest heavily in their evening gowns, or iltapuvut, and rating these is popular Independence Day entertainment for many people. A total of about 1,800 guests are typically invited to the Presidential Palace Independence Day celebrations, and approximately ten treats are reserved for each guest from the Palace delicacies.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know when the first Independence Day celebrations organized by the President of Finland were held?
The first Independence Day celebrations were held in 1919, when the then President's daughter held a modest reception for 150 guests.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How is Independence Day celebrated in your country?
Leave us a comment at FinnishPod101.com, and see you again in the next class!