Saturday, December 6, 2008

Itsenäisyyden Päivä/Independence Day

My lovely friend Tiina wrote about today's importance to Finland: December 6th is Finland's independence day (from Russia for those who don't know).

There are no fireworks, no fanfare, and perhaps very few parties (if any). In fact, it's a very solemn affair. You see, Finland was rocked by several wars, which I have no doubt that every Finn has some familial connection to these wars. (The Winter War, the Continuation War... aka WWI and WWII, to my understanding--Tiina, feel free to correct me) In fact, all of my great grandfathers fought in those wars, all but one survived (I have that great-grandfather's violin, I cherish it). My great-grandmothers were also involved, my grandmother's mother was a "lotta" in the war while raising 3 kids on her own (kind of like a nurse, how I understand it). My maternal grandfather remembers being evacuated out of the Karelia (Karjala) region of Finland that was given to Russia.

As for me, most people don't even know I'm even FROM Finland. Sometimes they don't believe me when I tell them (well, then they ask if I speak "...uuh, Finland-ish?" It's Finnish). Even in my own room, the only "Finnish" things are some artwork from two Finnish artists: a piece by Tove Jansson and Kaj Stenvall. I sometimes feel as if Finland isn't even my "isänmaa" or "fatherland" anymore. I know all my family is over there (with the exception of my mom and dad and some 2nd cousins in Canada), but they don't know me. They never will. They don't even try. I do have some lovely friends there, but even that number has dwindled from when I lived there for a year in high school.

So all I can do on this day is remember those who have been lost, and what an impact these things have had on Finland's history, remember my family members who have been affected by tragedy, and do some homework due on Monday.

This post was supposed to have a point, but I guess it doesn't, sorry.

No comments: