Friday, 15 December, 2017

Rovaniemi visions future as it marks Suomi 100

05 Dec 2017, 19:07 ( 9 days ago)

DF Report by Nhat Ngoc Trinh
File Photo Finnish government.

For Suomi, meaning Finland, 2017 is a most auspicious year. It marks the completion of 100 years since Finland’s independence on 6 December 1917 after being a part of the Swedish Kingdom and the Russian Empire.

Despite many hard times and a lot of hardships, the Finns have relentlessly worked together for the past century to build Suomi into one of the world’s best countries in every aspect. And such achievements truly deserve kaleidoscopic jubilations as well as brainstorming programmes in every sphere to take forward the remarkable successes achieved in 1917 to 2017. Hence, ‘Together’, the theme of Finland’s centenary celebration year is very apt indeed. 

“The theme [Together] gives plenty of room for different perceptions of Finland and our culture to be portrayed,” remarked Rovaniemi City Council Cultural Producer Roosa Nevala. She said all the events and other activities of the joint centenary celebrations would not have been possible without the individuals, communities and businesses putting active and united efforts in creating something for everyone from every generation.

While the overall responsibility for putting the Suomi 100 programme rests with the ‘Finland 100 Years’ organisation established in the Prime Minister’s Office, the programmes implemented and their themes have been and are still going to be as diverse as the country and its people from the highest national level down to the grassroots as well as in the international arena.

To date, more than 5,000 events have been held and more than 80 % of the population took part in various cultural events of Suomi 100 and more than 600 000 people has been doing the program, said Lapin Liiton Regional Coordinator Julius Oförsagd, who is the Suomi 100 project manager in Lapland.

Oförsagd said Rovaniemi hosted the very first Suomi 100 event in Lapland. Since then, a number of featured events, such as an exhibition in the Korundi House of Culture with over 1,000 participants and the Hulahula dance event to celebrate the summer festival  Juhannus, have been held in the city to celebrate the independence centenary. The latest of such events of import was the Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit Conference held on 14-15 November, with about 300 representatives from more than 20 countries across the globe taking part. This international conference, closely linked to Finland’s assumption of the Arctic Council’s chair, has been the most important Arctic event of the country’s centenary celebrations.

The events held in Rovaniemi and elsewhere in Lapland have shown how diverse are Finnish Lapland in terms of society, ethnicity, culture, arts and crafts, business, nature, etc, said Oförsagd, adding, “I am so proud that so many people have joined the Suomi 100 events in Lapland during the whole year.”

Talking about the feedback and impression of the local and international event participants, Roosa Nevala said with a twinkling in her eyes, “Many of the events have been a real eye-opening experience for them towards the Finnish culture and history.”

Now, with 6 December, the Independence Day of Finland, just around the corner, “Many grand events are expected to take place in the city, especially on the December 5th and the 6th,” noted Oförsagd.

Starting from the Independence Day Eve, many buildings in Rovaniemi will be decorated with festive lighting in Finland’s colours – blue and white – and garlands will be laid down at the graves of the soldiers buried in the city. However, this year, said Oförsagd, the main celebrations will be held in the Lappia-talo theatre which will feature performances by the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Rovaniemi Theatre, Finland 100 Children’s Choir, and traditional dances by Siepakat, among other things.

A meaningful event will also be held, he said, to rejoice with the immigrants who have received Finnish citizenship and to give them an opportunity to present their personal perceptions of Finland. A 25-year anniversary party of the Arktikum will also be organised simultaneously with the national centenary celebrations.

More interestingly, many small get-togethers, like afternoon coffee parties, will also take place all over Finland and Lapland, where people can meet and have some pre-parties before the main celebrations. 

Suomi 100 is the biggest celebration programme ever held in Finland and most enthusiastically received by the Finns. Oförsagd said over 99 per cent of the Finns know the year’s significance and more than 80 per cent of the population want to make something together to mark the occasion.

This centenary will be the most significant commemorative year for the current generation of Finns of all the decisions and achievements made during the past hundred years in order to build the present society that strongly thrives towards equality and values tolerance, individuality, freedom of speech, culture, and respect for nature.

In Nevala’s words, “The year is about understanding the past better, celebrating the present together, and visioning Finland’s way forward.”

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