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President Niinistö: If lies become common, Finland will be a difficult place to live

The theme of this year’s official Independence Day reception is knowledge.

Sauli Niinistö
President Sauli Niinistö (left) Image: Tuomo Björksten / Yle

President Sauli Niinistö spoke on Friday to set out the thinking behind the theme of this year’s Independence Day reception.

Last month it emerged that the theme would be ‘knowledge and discussion’. Niinistö said that there is now more information than ever, but that along with that glut there are also half-truths and straight lies in public discussion.

"And if we start heading in that direction, this will become a difficult place to live for everybody," said Niinistö. "Maybe the most concerning thing is the hurtful style of discussion where people also attack individuals. It’s quite a tough spot for the victim."

Niinistö said that everyone should defend discussion and debate in society, but also said that critical debates are important.

On the menu at this year’s reception are organic treats, including the famous traditional punch. There are also vegan wines on offer alongside tee and a beer brewed using leftover bread.

Secrets of the ball

Much of the food comes from small producers in the countryside, but organisers of the number one social event of the year do not reveal their names.

"This year we have for the first time a salmiakki (salt liquorice) pastry, for instance," said head chef Jyrki Jääskeläinen. "The sandwich cake also has new fillings, including pike and smoked salmon."

A cappella group Club for Five will perform at the event, alongside singers Laura Voutilainen and Lauri Mikkola and the Cantores Minores Helsinki Cathedral choir.

There will be some 1,700 guests at the reception to be hosted by Niinistö and First Lady Jenni Haukio, including 30 veterans of the Second World War. Some of those are women who served in the Lotta Svärd auxiliary organisation.

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