Today Finland celebrates 97 years of independence, and although my home country is in the grip of a recession, I think we still have a lot to be grateful for, and need to celebrate an independence which during our short history has at times been difficult to maintain.
In his address to all Finns living abroad, President Niinistö also refers to the past difficulties:
Finnish independence has gone through a number of phases. The most difficult of these
occurred already some time ago. Independence has perhaps already begun to feel like
something we can take for granted. However, the events in Ukraine this year have
provided us with a disturbing reminder that, even today, we must work hard to preserve
peace and freedom. Together with other countries, Finland must contribute to calming the
situation. Trust must be built if peace is to become possible.
You you can read the whole of the President's address to Finns living abroad here.
I am already planning celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of Finnish Independence together with the other Finnish organisations (known as Finnbodies) in the UK, but in the meantime, I'm going to tune into Yle Arena, the Finnish Broadcasting Company's online service to check out the traditional Presidential Reception in Helsinki tonight. And of course I will also be lighting two blue and white candles bought especially for the day from a new Finnish online food retailer, Finndeli.