As many of you probably know Finland is celebrating its 100 years of independence this year – today, 6th of December exactly. And it is a subject I never thought I would write about, because I have never been very interested about the Finnish nation and I haven’t considered my self very patriotic. I have always been bad on Finnish history and I have to admit that I can’t even sing the Finnish national hymn by heart. Luckily I know some of our great writers, but probably not all the books a Finn is supposed to know.
Despite my lack of general Finnish knowledge I still enjoy many things from the Finnish culture. Sauna, lake swimming, cold snow inside your shoes when you didn’t put the socks well enough on the top of your long johns, the smell of a cigarette in the frozen winter air, the smoke of a campfire and mosquito repellent on your clothes – are all things which in my opinion just can’t be felt in the same way if you haven’t grew up in Finland and have some kind of national identity.
I have always heard stories about the Karelians who moved to Finland after the war – my grandmother is one of them – but for some reason it have still felt like something very distant and not related to my life. This started to change slowly since I moved back to Finland from France. I have started to appreciate and to be interested about my home country in a totally different way, and this autumn I have seen several movies or documentaries about Finland, our history and the wars. Each time when I’ve learned something new, or just understood some parts of the history better, some kind of very strong and somehow new feeling have came to me. I have started to feel proud and honor towards my small country, which have actually suffered a lot, and been independent for such a short time – on the global scale.
Through the different places I have already lived, I have understood the beauty of Finland with its wild endless nature, its weird silent people who you still always can trust on, who are honest and extremely gutsy. It is rare in this world to find people like Finns, a bit crazy but so goodhearted. And I believe Finns want to make their country even better and despite small disagreements they will always stick together as one nation.
However, because I don’t think you should ever accept only what you have, but always aim a bit higher, I hope Finland will learn how to fill its beautiful spaces with those who need a place, and at the same time not destroy areas which don’t need to be changed. I wish during the next 100 years (or preferably before) Finland would become even more equal, more open and more international – and stay as good place to live as it is now!