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Roses are a popular way to delight mothers. Picture: Flickr

In much of the world, but not all, the second Sunday in May is reserved to celebrate Mother’s Day. Children all over the world spent hours making cards and gifts at school in the lead-up, and fathers run around the evening before trying to find a card or bunch of flowers. All to celebrate the efforts of those selfless individuals we call mum.

In Finland, the day is honored with an official flag day. In fact, this day is one of only five legally enforced flag days meaning all public buildings must fly their flag.

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[divider]What is a flag day?[/divider]

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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.

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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.