The Presidential Palace. Stock picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

President Sauli Niinistö and Mrs. Jenni Haukio will host the Independence Day Reception at the Presidential Palace on December 6.

Knowledge and discussion in society will configure as the main themes of the reception. Many of the guests are people and representatives of institutions that, through their own actions, have promoted discussion in society and the dissemination of reliable information. As in the previous years, the buffet and decorations draw upon locality and eco-friendliness.

1,700 merited guests

About 1,700 people, who have distinguished themselves in various ways, have been invited to the reception from all over Finland. In keeping with the theme of the event, the guests include researchers, non-fiction writers, journalists, professional educators as well as authorities and experts.

Finnish war veterans and members of the Lotta Svärd will be guests of honor. They will be the first to be greeted by the presidential couple at 19:00 to the tune of the Jäger March by Sibelius.

Music reveals the Finnish soul

The Guards Band will perform the music that plays during the greeting ceremony in the Hall of State. The pieces of music have been selected by the band with regard to traditions. The anniversary year of Armas Järnefelt, a Finnish composer, will also be reflected in the repertoire. Dancing will begin with the opening waltz selected by the presidential couple, which will this year be Raimo Roiha’s Maailman kaunein maa (The Most Beautiful Country in the World), made famous by Reijo Taipale, a beloved singer who passed away earlier this year. 

Additionally, the guests will be entertained by the Guards Combo featuring Laura Voutilainen and Lauri Mikkola, who will perform Finnish evergreens in the Hall of State dance floor. The boys’ choir Cantores Minores will perform with 41 singers at the coffee event for veterans and lottas.

The performers, aged 11–26, are part of the representative choir. One of the compositions to be performed in honor of the veterans and lottas is Veteraanin iltahuuto (Veterans’ Roll Call) by Kalervo Hämäläinen.

At the third floor salong, entertainment will be provided by the well-known a capella ensemble Club for Five. Their repertoire at the Independence Day Reception will be based on Finnish national landscapes seasoned with music from other parts of the world.

Finnish raw materials

The buffet served at the reception will again highlight Finnish food and eco-friendliness. The buffet will include a wide selection of organic products as well as fish and game. Desserts will be prepared using highbush blueberries from Kultaranta garden and other local berries. Environmental considerations will also play a part in the drinks selection.

For example, the reception’s traditional punch will this year be made entirely from local organic ingredients. Cooperation with catering institutes of education will continue at the 2019 reception. Assisting the kitchen and waiting staff will be a total of 32 students from the Perho Culinary, Tourism & Business College. Some of the products will also be prepared by the students.

Blue-white flower arrangements

For the 2019 Independence Day Reception, the Presidential Palace will be decorated with blue and white flowers. These will mostly include cut flowers cultivated in Finland as well as currently fashionable dried flowers and other natural materials.

The flowers come mainly from Finnish gardens that use domestic renewable energy sources in growing the plants. Most of the flowers and decorative materials are a gift from the Finnish Glasshouse Growers’ Association in honor of its centennial year. Flowers and natural materials from Kultaranta, the President’s summer residence, will also be on display.