President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse, Jenni Haukio, waving at the balcony of the Presidential Palace on December 6, 2022. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY / Click to view the gallery.

Independence day in Finland is filled with pride and joy. 105 years of independence is something to have an abundant amount of gratitude for, but yearly protests prove the union has difficulties with conflicts, involving political and social clashes.

We are perhaps divided into different teams, with strong opinions involving Finland’s politics. The day of celebration, for some, is a day of drastic views and revolution.

Before attending any protests, I pondered about the past. Last year was filled with anxiety of the pandemic, but as usual, the people had their passion for a protest.

Thoughts that I had before arriving at my day’s first protest were about how something so beautiful, celebrating independence, could be seen as if it was war. Appalling.

We are divided as a union, but our differences make us whole. Warm and cold colliding, creating a heartbreaking storm. A whirlwind of emotions and feelings of uncertainty fill us, young people. For in political situations, the choices that are made, affect our future and our future children’s destiny. We, as the youth, deserve equality and diversity. That is a beautiful base for a healthy, powerful, nation that works democratically in unity. Differences aside, peace is one of the main goals.

The first protest of the night was for the nationalist parties. Fighting for “rebirth” and awakening Finland’s nation, Sinimusta organization and others under the umbrella of Suomi herää protest (Finland awakens), walked through Helsinki banging their drums and chanting. People gathered around to watch, many mocking, some confused, and many intrigued and interested.

This year there seemed to be a lot of participants, hundreds. Flags raised as they walked, keeping them high close to the sky, flowing through the icy wind.

The atmosphere was cold throughout, filled with pure anger that originates from bigoted opinions. From my perspective, it was horrid to watch. Some of the protesters covered their faces, showing squinted eyes, presenting themselves tall and stern, extremely unnatural. Truly otherworldly.

Advocating for Finland’s anti-Nazi movement, the somewhat 1,500 people that took part in Helsinki Without Nazis protest (Helsinki ilman natseja), were filled with people laughing and cheering for liberation and freedom. The scene was in direct contrast to what I just witnessed. Frigid air mildly warmed up, due to the vast amount of individuals gathered together, and the feeling of true unity that we, the people, created.

The Independence Day protests this year were (mostly) peaceful, besides some curses and insults on the streets.

Overall successful, and done without unnecessary violence.

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