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Independence Day festivities kick off with official flag-raising ceremony

Finland’s 101st Independence Day celebrations began Thursday morning with the traditional raising of the Finnish flag at Observatory Hill Park (Tähtitorninmäki) in Helsinki.

Partiolaiset nostavat Suomen lipun salkoon itsenäisyyspäivän valtakunnallisen lipunnoston tilaisuudessa Tähtitorninmäellä Helsingissä.
The traditional flag raising ceremony underway at Tähtitornimäki in Helsinki. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Celebration of Finland’s 101st anniversary of independence began on Thursday morning at 9 am with the raising of the flag ceremony at Observatory Hill Park (Tähtitornimäki) in Helsinki, a tradition dating back to 1957.

”An independent Finland is not a gift, but a mission," Speaker of Parliament Päivi Risikko told crowds, paying tribute to Finland's war veterans and all those who rebuilt Finland after the wars.

The Viipurin Lauluveikot male chorus sang Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia and the national anthem Maamme ("Our Land") for the gathered crowd.

As per tradition, the flag-raising ceremony is followed by an ecumenical church service at Helsinki Cathedral at noon, attended by President Sauli Niinistö, and a military parade.

The parade is arranged by a different city each year and this year it is Mikkeli’s turn.

Several other cities throughout the country will arrange parades, concert performances and other celebrations on Thursday afternoon.

The day culminates with the Independence Day reception, hosted by the presidential couple at the presidential palace, which is the most-watched television event of the year.

Throughout the country flags are flown on Independence Day, as it’s a flag day in Finland. By law, the Finnish flag must be flown from public buildings from early in the morning until 8 pm.

Finnish police are preparing for several nationalist and far right marches in Helsinki on independence day, but they will not necessarily ban Nazi salutes.

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