December 6, 2013

Independence Day 2013

It’s Finland’s 96th Independence Day.

On the day before Independence Day it has been a tradition to go to ”Patriotic Festivities” (Isänmaallinen juhla) where there are choir group ”Mieskuoro Laulajat” singing. On this year also there were also a senior choir group ”Seniorikuoro Konkelot”. I’ve been going listening the ”Patriotic Festivities” for many years and this year was no exception.  ”Patriotic Festivities” is usually arranged at Tampere-talo but now when presidential residence was under refurbishment the president of the republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, was holding the Independence Day’s reception there with his spouse Jenni Haukio.

So, on this year ”Patriotic Festivities” was held in one of Tampere’s churches, at “Tuomiokirkko” which is a beautiful church. The setlist was much more religious this time comparing to the earlier concerts - I guess that because the concert was held in a church the setlist had also been altered more religious. There was two community singing psalms, which there has never been when the ”Patriotic Festivities” had been held at Tampere-talo. There was nothing bad about it but it didn’t really give you the feeling it was going to be an Independence Day next day but like spending a Sunday at a church.

There were no orchestra this time either but there was a huge organ and it was the only music we heard. After seeing a huge speakers I thought that at least “Finlandia” would be played there but they clearly were only for so everyone could hear the talking. This time the person who gave a speech wasn’t a person from Finnish defence forces or anything like that but Tampere’s bishop – a reasonable choice, for we were at the church after all. He was talking about the Finland’s flag and the time he was a child, but I knew he would mention “God” at some point. He did it at the very end so it didn’t sound like a sermon.

The last four songs were about Finland and its independence – these four songs I really liked for I had already gotten used to that they were sang at the ”Patriotic Festivities” for the glory of our home country. Towards the end of the concert senior choir group ”Seniorikuoro Konkelot” sang the first two songs of the last four songs on their own. And the two choirs sang “Finlandia” at the end which has always been very important to me and a big part of my spending of the Independence Day. But this time the “Finlandia-hymn” was without any music at all which shortened it so much less than two minutes long. And I was kind of disappointed at first because the music is so powerful and magnificent part of “Finlandia” but the choir sang it so well I didn’t even remember it afterwards. At the end of the concert we all stand up and sing the Finnish national anthem, “Maamme”.

We kind of got the leftover seats because we were at the church just in time with my dad’s wife for our slippery high heels had slowed down our journey. But I managed to see my father (who is in the choir) and he saw me, even he couldn’t show me any sign. I managed to take some photos of a part of the choir group when they went upstairs to sign, next to the organ.

It may sound I’m judging the whole concert, but I’m not – it was good on its own way!

I like this church a lot – I had my confirmation at there. I like the painted pictures on the church’s ceiling, especially the snake biting the forbidden fruit.

After the concert I went to my dad’s home with his wife – we walked the whole icy and slippery way there. My dad had some choir thing to attend to and we didn’t know how long he would be there. When we finally were at their home we drank a glass of sparkling wine, watched the movie “Shakespeare in Love” all the while we were talking and laughing. I was glad I got a ride home from my mom, and not trying to walk home the slippery road from the bus stop.

My outfit yesterday:

Next day was Independence Day. It was a beautiful day even it was cloudy. The Independence Day’s reception from Tampere-talo started at 5:15 p.m. and we started to watch it while drinking sparkling wine.

I love to see what beautiful and some quite original dresses everyone, especially women, have when they step in to shake hands with the president of the republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, and his spouse Jenni Haukio, who was absolutely glowing and she was beautiful!

The picture is from here. 

This was Sauli Niinistö’s first Independence Day’s reception and on this year it was different than usual, maybe because it was at Tampere-talo and not at the presidential residence. Usually there’s dancing and one or few artist performing and reporters go and interview the guests. This time there was no dancing this time and there was a concert where there was singing and people reading fragment of Finnish literature. It sure was different than before. I first thought I don’t like it but when I thought it afterwards it was kind of good in its own way. And this time the only dress code was a dark dress both women and men, so for women it didn’t have to be a long dress. “The Dudesons” were invited also and I think they had the best suits of all the men. The reports did interview the guests at the dining hall and the food looked amazing! 

The picture is from here.

I had planned to do something more festive for dinner because it was Independence Day after all. I made vegan “coq au vin” (rooster in wine) from seitan (or “wheat meat”) and with roasted vegetables. It was so worth waiting and seeing an effort.

In between the Independence Day’s reception there was a few news about the reception and what has happened on the Independence Day overall. I usually don’t watch news because there’s too much negative news in them but this time I watched it. It was about how the reception has been going and about the guests. But it wasn’t all happy news for about 200 protesters had left from the city center and turned over the fence which had surrounded Tampere-talo. They blow up fireworks and bangers at the near park close to Tampere-talo, at Sorsapuisto. That wasn’t nice. I don’t understand why does people have to protest on Finland’s Independence Day!

After the news the reception and the concert continued. I liked the song “Myrskyluodon Maija” (“Stormskärs Maja” in Swedish) performed by Maria Ylipää and Waltteri Torikka, even it was mostly sang in Swedish. Like always, I waited Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia” the most. This time it was performed two child choirs. I wondered why didn’t the reception planners get the men choir group ”Mieskuoro Laulajat” singing because they are from Tampere and they have the tradition to perform at Tampere-talo on the day before Independence Day on ”Patriotic Festivities”. And on this year a senior choir group ”Seniorikuoro Konkelot” was singing with them. I have heard these two choir groups singing “Finlandia” together and let me say it is simply magnificent! The kids singing it was nothing comparing with these two men choir groups with big voices – sure it was cute because they are kids but I think it needed something more...

After the reception there was an after parties all over Tampere but the official after party was at Hotel Tammer, where there was performing Finnish artists. The hosts were four silly women who thought they were funnier than they actually were. Despiting them the after party was quite nice.

After the after party ended on 10:30 p.m.
the movie "The Unknown Soldier" (Finnish: "Tuntematon sotilas") was broadcasted on TV. It is tradition to broadcast it every year, but this time I was surprised how late it was broadcasted – it ended 1:20 a.m.! Usually it comes during the day – maybe the concerned parents got their way with it after all for they don’t want their kids to see a movie about war, even it is a big part of Finland’s history. And the movie is made in 1955 and it’s black and white and there’s no red blood splattering like in today’s horror movies which, in fact, kids are watching when their parents doesn’t know. So thank you for almost ruining our tradition, you damn parents!

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Independence Day’s reception but it confused me a little that it was different than the Independence Day’s receptions I’ve used to see before. Next year the Independence Day’s reception will be at the usual place, at the presidential residence and I can’t wait to see what it will be like...

Happy Independence Day!

Jean Sibelius – Finlandia:

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