Finland, one of our beautiful destinations, is celebrating its 100 years of independence. Congratulations to Finns all around the globe (including our lovely 50 Degrees North staff members in Melbourne and Norway)!
In Finland, celebrations started already yesterday evening, when Helsinki’s Market Square was lit up in a blue and white light show and parties small and large kick-started in schools, libraries, concert halls, and town squares (not to mention karaoke bars) all over the country.
Today, on December 6th, the parties continue, culminating in the annual televised Independence Day Reception (also known as ‘the Castle Ball’) at the Presidential Palace. Here, the approximately 2000 invited guests will line up and shake hands with the presidential couple on their way into the hall, while the rest of the population watches them on TV. This is one of the many curious traditions that the Finns uphold and enjoy year after year!
Just an added extra, right now, the day before Independence Day, Finland livestreams 12 hours in the life of a supermarket conveyor belt from the largest supermarket in Helsinki! 🇫🇮️ Unmissable!!
From a travelling perspective, Finland is well known for its natural wonders and unique culture. In the summer, you can experience the midnight sun or the countless weird and wonderful events and music festivals around the country (ever heard of the World Championships for wife carrying, air guitar playing, mosquito killing or mobile phone throwing?). In the Autumn, Finland’s thousands of forests (70% of the land mass) are filled with berries, mushrooms, and the cleanest air you can find, all free for taking. In the Winter and early Spring, the Finnish Lapland is an ideal destination for skiing or going for snow mobile, reindeer, or husky rides. Here you can also see the Northern Lights more than 200 nights per year – which is practically every winter night, fingers crossed xx!
Finland is known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’ (188,000 of them to be exact), yet it also boasts a beautiful and vast archipelago. The country has over 3 million saunas (and only 5 million citizens!); it is the only place in the world where you can meet the real Santa Claus; its newborns sleep in cardboard boxes and take their naps while rugged up in the pram in freezing temperatures; and it has one the weirdest languages in the world. The Finnish word ‘sisu’ captures something essential about the Finnish psyche – it can be roughly translated as a strength of will in the face of adversity. Finns can sometimes appear shy and reserved, but they are also caring, hard-working, and innovative people who appreciate honesty, meaningful conversation, and self-deprecating humour.
If you haven’t visited Finland yet, now is the time! Let’s raise a toast to the next hundred years in the life of this weird and wonderful country!
Images: Jussi Hellsten, @liisajokinen, Markus Kiili and Daniel Taipale.