On the 6th of December Finland turned 100 years old. So, what’s that all about? Some of my British friends thought we were celebrating getting independent of Sweden and so I decided to clear thing up a little.
Here’s some details of the History of Finland, just a quick conclusion to get you all on board:
- (800 – 1050) Swedish Vikings established trade ties with Russia via Finland
- (1150’s) Swedish led crusades to southwestern Finland; converted Finns to Christianity
- (1155 – 1809) Finland incorporated into Kingdom of Sweden
- 1523) Gustavus Vasa (King of Sweden) established Lutheran Church in Sweden and Finland
- (1550) Helsinki founded
- (1713 – 1721) Russia invaded Finland; maintained reign of terror
- (1721) In Treaty of Uusikaupunki, Sweden gave southeastern Finland, Livonia, Estonia and Ingria to Russia
- (1906) Finland acquired national parliament
- (1907) Finland became first European country to give women right to vote
- (1917) Finland declared independence from Russia; Finnish Republic demanded withdrawal of Russian troops; Russia declared Finland to be independent
- (1918) Civil War in Finland occurred between “Whites”(Finland forces) and “Reds” (Russian troops); Whites victorious
- (1919) Finland became republic
And so we got out from Russia in 1917. Ever since then, Finland has become an extremely progressive country, getting a top notch in things like education and human rights. Unfortunately both of those examples are now going backwards a little, and I’m hoping it all to go forward instead.
Finland is famous for things like education, equality, quality of life, interior design and Jean Sibelius.
But I don’t want to write a post just about things that you can find in Google. I want to tell you what Finland means to me and also why I’m ready to leave it. I might not be able to put it in full sentences, the meaning of Finland to me, but I can put words here that just might paint the picture for you, my dear readers.
Here’s a few of my favourite Finnish songs you can open in a tab to listen whilst you read (that is, if you’re on your laptop or iPad). They just remind me of the sweet summers and Helsinki, the capital of Finland where I lived on and off between 2011-2015.
For people who enjoy rap, here’s some good bloody Finnish rap for ya:
Finland is nature, animals and wellbeing. Finland is a wooden sauna in the summer that smells like smoke, it’s when you jump in to the fresh water in the sunset and there’s nothing else there, just you, your friends or family and the purest nature of all.
c. Saara Tuominen
Finland is a wooden cottage, where the floorboards squeak as you nip outside in your wellies and your Marimekko shirt to collect some berries for your morning porridge. Finland is riding a bicycle throughout the year – summer or winter – because the fresh feeling on your face and the smell of pure air is worth it.
Finland is Iittala and Aalto home interior. It’s a Scandinavian coffee shop in Helsinki or Tampere or Turku, where everything is wooden, black and white – where you can sit in the weirdest places you could imagine. Finland is a tote bag, a huge coat and a beanie. Finland is long hair in a bun. It’s a beard. It’s natural. It’s the silent “don’t put too much effort in yourself or in your appearance because that’s superficial, that’s too mainstream” rule.
Finland is Helsinki – the smell of the streets in the summer at night, after a few beers in the park, when you wonder in Kallio, ready to stay up all night. It’s sitting on a window seal, with the window open, having a cigarette and lots of coffee (Finnish people drink coffee the most of all people in the world). It’s seagulls and clattering trams, it’s the orange metro. It’s the best years of my life, with my best friends in the best and most loving high school this world has ever seen. It’s growing up without realising it. It’s people. It’s love and feeling united.
Finland is nationalism, it’s narrow-minded. It’s where politicians argue if we can put wine in the grocery shops. It’s where some politicians say that nazism is OK. It’s where equal marriage law passed in 2015 (Sweden 2009). It’s where there isn’t enough money for mental health care, for elderly, for growing poverty. For education. Finland is talking about how much better it is compared to many other countries. Finland is competition with Sweden. Finland is endless talk about the war.
Finland is equal. Finland is giving opportunities to everyone. Finland is about putting everyone on the same line and not raised to compete amongst ourselves. Finland is starting school at the age of 7 and having support from people around you. Finland is to be proud of being Finnish.
Finland to me has been the greatest place to grow I could imagine. I love this country and I always will. I just don’t feel I fit here and that has just been my personal experience, ever since my early teens. Outside Helsinki or Turku, to me it gets a little miserable and I just can’t relax here. It’s not my home anymore. My home from the end of January will be England but I make damn sure that everyone can see and feel Finland in our home too – and I’ll make sure everyone will know your name. Happy 100th Birthday, Finland. Please, let me be proud of you, always.