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Finland's centennial celebrations kick off with coffee, buns -- and karaoke

Celebrations marking Finland's 100th anniversary of independence get underway Tuesday with events ranging from a special plenary session of Parliament to patriotic singalongs in karaoke bars.

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Image: Yle

A series of events, both big and small, began Tuesday honouring the 100th anniversary of Finland's Declaration of Independence on Wednesday the 6th.

The Finnish Parliament is holding a special afternoon plenary session, focused on the centenary and the theme of children's well-being and equal development. Parliament will be formalising a grant of 50 million euros to the independence anniversary children’s fund, established by the Central Union for Child Welfare and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 1987.

The aim of the fund is to promote and support the well-being, equality, status and future prospects of children and families residing in Finland.

Coffee and kids

The Finland 100 Years project organisation, which is carrying the responsibility for centenary celebrations, has urged the public to take a national, festive coffee break Tuesday afternoon. Many places of employment are hosting the coffee break at 2 PM, while customers at many shops and supermarkets are also likely to be offered a cup and a bun.

A national children's independence ball at the Diet of Estates building is being held between 2:30 PM and 5 PM, hosted by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. Over three hundred 10 year-olds, two from each of Finland's municipalities have been invited to take part.

Helsinki's Lutheran Cathedral will be illuminated in blue and white light starting at 4 PM. At 3:30, and lasting six hours, a light installation in Helsinki's Töölönlahti Park will begin scrolling the names of some 153,000 Finns, who served at the front and were among the over 700,000 that served in the military during WWII. A broadcast stream will also be available on Yle Areena.

At least 20 other landmarks in the capital will be bathed in blue and white light this evening, including government buildings, Finlandia Hall, and Helsinki's main railway station.

In Olympic Stadium Square the original 1952 Olympic torch will be rekindled at 5 PM and the stadium tower illuminated in the national colours.

Official start

The traditional Independence Day candle-lighting ceremony at the graves of former presidents in Helsinki's Hietaniemi cemetery starts at 5 PM.

President Sauli Niinistö will officially open the celebration of Finland's 100th anniversary of independence will take place at Helsinki's south harbour market square at 6 PM, which will be decorated by 100 national flags. 

TV and karaoke

The commercial TV company MTV3 is providing non-stop live coverage of celebrations from around the country between 8 PM and midnight.

Yle TV1 is broadcasting a centenary special starting at 9 PM, featuring music, sports, art, and discussion of Finland's century of independence.

And, the patrons of all karaoke bars in Finland have been invited to join in singing two well-known, old hit songs celebrating Finland and being a Finn beginning at 9 PM: Jukka Kuoppamäki’s Sininen ja valkoinen (Blue and White) and Kari Tapio’s Olen suomalainen (I’m a Finn). To wrap up, singers are being asked to join in the national anthem.

More information in English on events can be found at the Finland 100 Years project organisation site.

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