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Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

What is a flag day?

Being a newcomer to Finland, a strange tradition stood out and bugged me to no end. Each time it happened (maybe twice a month) I referred to it as another “random Finnish flag raising day.” There seemed to be no pattern and I couldn’t find out any information as to the event triggering the spectacle.

After questioning locals and a little research, I have found out that the official term, Flag Days. Finland honors its ancestors who have contributed to their culture by giving them a flag day. It could be their birthday or another significant day depending on their achievements.  On these days, of which there are 18 throughout the year, every flag pole must bear the Finnish flag. It is truly a breathtaking site to behold. Thousands of flags fly high as each building has at least one pole and many streets are lined with flags.

 Todays Celebration

Minna Canth (1844-1897) and gender Equality Day – March 19

Minna Canth was the first Finnish-speaking female writer and journalist. She trained as a teacher for two years before marrying and subsequently being made to cease her studies. As well as having seven children, she managed to write articles for newspapers and magazines regarding education, equality, socialism and freedom of religion. She also wrote 10 plays targeting social commentary from a woman’s perspective. She became a very important and highly respected voice within Finland during her time. She died at the age of 53 of a heart attack and was allocated a flag day on her birthday in 2007. She is the only female to be allocated a flag day.

Picture of Minna Canth at the tail of Norwegian’s Boeing 737. Picture: Aeroprints

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