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Fathers' Day becomes an official flag day in Finland

The change is "a message from the state that parenthood is an equal joy and responsibility," says the interim interior minister.

Until now there were half a dozen official flag days. Image: Mostphotos/stocksnapper

The outgoing government, which now has caretaker status, made a relatively uncontroversial decision on Thursday: elevating Fathers' Day to the status of an official flag day.

In Finland, fathers are honoured on the second Sunday in November, this year 10 November.

It becomes the seventh such annual red-letter day, when the Finnish flag must be flown from public buildings.

The others are Kalevala Day (also known as Finnish Culture Day, 28 February), Labour Day (also known as May Day or Vappu, 1 May), Mothers' Day (second Sunday in May), Flag Day of the Finnish Defence Forces, on the birthday of Marshal Mannerheim (4 June), Midsummer Day (Finnish Flag Day, the Saturday between 20-26 June, with flags usually hoisted at 6pm the previous evening on Midsummer's Eve) and Independence Day (6 December).

Other official flag days which vary depending on the year are election days and presidential inauguration days, as well as some official state visit by foreign heads of state.

There another 11 days on which it has become customary to fly the Finnish flag, including Veterans' Day, Remembrance Day, Europe Day, UN Day, Finnish Swedish Heritage Day. The rest mostly commemorate famous writers, along with composer Jean Sibelius and statesman JV Snellman.

"Parenthood an equal joy and responsibility"

Thus Fathers' Day has been elevated from the second informal group to the first, where Mothers' Day has long been included.

"It's good that motherhood and fatherhood have now finally been placed on the same line when it comes to flying the flag. Removing this difference is a message from the state that parenthood is an equal joy and responsibility," outgoing interior minister Kai Mykkänen said.

The only time the flag statute has been changed before was in 1996, when new election days - including European Parliament elections - were added after Finland joined the EU.

There are also separate dates when the flags of the autonomous Åland Islands and of the indigenous Sámi people are flown.