Finland’s Independence Day began in exceptional circumstances. In the evening, citizens are urged to join the celebration remotely.

The presidential motorcade driving past waving bystanders on Finland’s 103rd Independence Day in Helsinki on December 6, 2020. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

Independent Finland turns 103 today. Flags fly in front of apartment buildings in the cities and in the countryside salute neighbors on snowless yards.

Many official ceremonies, including protests and parades, have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some have been moved to safer locations or reorganized in their entirety.

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President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse, Jenni Haukio, light a candle at the Helsinki Cathedral on December 6, 2020. Photograph: Jon Norppa/The Office of the President of the Republic

The traditional raising of the national flag took place in Hämeenlinna without spectators. In Helsinki, President Sauli Niinistö lit a candle at the Helsinki Cathedral and laid wreath at the Cross of Heroes in the Hietaniemi cemetery without much public and hornets honored the day with roaring thunder behind thick clouds in the sky.

In the afternoon, the Conscript Band of the Finnish Defence Forces will organize a concert that can be viewed on YouTube.

President Niinistö at the wreath-laying ceremony in the Hietaniemi cemetery on December 6, 2020. Photograph: Jon Norppa/The Office of the President of the Republic

In the evening, the presidential couple invites citizens to celebrate Independence Day reception remotely via a live broadcast from the Presidential Palace. Through a video connection, President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse, Jenni Haukio, will hear thoughts from veterans, conscripts and the youth.

Remote-controlled and unattended cameras will be used to broadcast the events. Some of the performances and regional broadcasts to be seen have been pre-recorded.

In addition, the composition of performer groups has been reduced and some of the performances consist of several parts recorded at different times.

“In the exceptional circumstances, we can convey an atmosphere that I would describe in words as looking Finland in the eye. To experience the nation’s unique success story and recognize the strengths with which all difficulties have been and will be overcome,” President Niinistö said in a statement.

The Conscript Band of the Finnish Defence Forces performs live on YouTube at 14:00. The concert can be watched here.

The Independence Celebration will be organized in partnership with Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle, which will broadcast the Independence Day events live on Sunday, December 6 from 19:30 to 22:00 on channel Yle TV 1.

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