Finland became independent from Russia on the 6th of December 1917.
Porvoo is the second oldest town in Finland. You will find that it is very busy during the summer months, full of locals enjoying the sun and tourists in for day trips.
Independence Day has been quite a solemn affair in Finland traditionally. It is very usual that everything quiets down by 6 pm when people return to their homes.
Two white-blue (representing the Finnish flag colours) candles are lighted up in the window. No-one really knows where this tradition came from originally. It has been said that candles were lit up on Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s birthday as a silent protest against Russian oppression. Another popular legend claims that two candles were used as a sign to inform young Finnish men on their way to war that the house was ready to offer shelter and keep them hidden from the Russians.
Then we Finns settle comfortably in front of the tv and switch on the Presidential Independence Day reception. It consists of prominent and influential people filing in and greeting the President and the First Lady – this goes on for hours. The fun of it is to judge who has the most beautiful gown and try to spot the celebrities or maybe even your neighbours!
With these photos of a rainy day in the quaint town of Porvoo, Runeberg’s home town, I wish you all a Happy Independence Day!