100 illuminated Finnish flags were hoisted at the Market Square to honor the centenary of Finland’s independence in Helsinki, Finland on December 5, 2017. The flags will stay up through the Independence Day on December 6. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

And so it began: the official opening ceremony for the centenary of Finland’s independence. A hundred illuminated Finnish flags were hoisted by children and youth at the Market Square in Helsinki on Tuesday evening in front of about 20,000 people. (The police estimation.)

While considering the amount, there was surprisingly a lot of room to move and turn; the centenary celebrations honored the core value of a true Finn — personal space.

There were people of all ages watching President Sauli Niinistö speak on a big screen, wishing the people a happy centennial. The weather was about zero degrees or one degree under, and just before it all ended in a few fireworks and some razzle-dazzle, it started snowing. Slowly.

Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport Sampo Terho lit a fire in a replica of an Olympic bowl that was used in Helsinki Olympics in 1952 to honor Finland’s independence. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today


The bowl was lit in front of the statue of Paavo Nurmi, the greatest runner of all time, in Helsinki’s Töölö district at 17:00. The fire burned for two hours. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

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