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Finnish war veterans observing the hoisting of the national flag at Tähtitorninmäki in Helsinki. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Today is a much-treasured day on the Finnish calendar used to pay respect to the war veterans who fought for their country. The date has been celebrated since 1987 and marks the last time Finland was at war, the end of the Lapland war in 1945.

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The day is marked by remembrance ceremonies, wreaths laid and memorial events. In the afternoon, President Sauli Niinistö will give a speech at the official National Veteran’s Day ceremony in Lahti.

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

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.