06 December 2011

Finnish Independence Day

Today, Finland celebrates its 94th year of independence from Russia (and before that Sweden). It's a national holiday, so no work and all stores are closed for the day. There will be lots of events and parties throughout the country, but the biggest and most tuned into will be the "Castle Ball" (Linnan juhlat) at the Presidential Palace. Many people spend the evening watching the approximately 2000 guests file into the party to critique the dresses and clothing of the people as they enter. (Personally, I might watch it for 2-3 minutes.)

As for Mr Siili and I, we stayed up late last night and we've slept in today. In a bit we'll go to his brother and wife's house to celebrate 2 of their 3 kids' birthdays. I'm not really in the mood to go, but it is the familial thing to do.

Instead of me rambling on today, I'll leave you with some Finnish Facts:

*Finland is a bilingual country, Finnish and Swedish being the two national languages. (I couldn't care less about Swedish.)

*The Finnish language (a.k.a. Suomi) is an non Indo-European language belonging to the Uralic family, along with Estonian and Hungarian. Independence day in Finnish = itsenäisyyspäivä

*Finland is situated between Sweden (on the left) and Russia (on the right). Norway also borders us at the very north a bit.

*Finland is the home of the Santa Claus. (I've visited him once.)

*We've had a female president, Tarja Halonen, since March 1, 2000.

*The population is 5 194 901 people (I'm counted in that!) and we also have over two million saunas. That's an average of one sauna per household!

*Yes, Nokia phones are from Finland. Before mobile phones, Nokia used to produce many other things, such as rubber products (tires, boots), paper products, communications cables, televisions and so on. The town of Nokia, where it more or less all began, is just a stone's throw away from where I live now.

*Currency is euro. In euro coins there are once two, five, ten, twenty and fifty cents, plus one and two euro denominations. Although, in Finland, we do not and never have used the one or two cent coins. (Yay!) When purchasing something with cash, the final price is rounded up or down to the nearest 0,05cents. Although 1 and 2 cent coins are, strictly speaking, legal tender, shops are not obliged to take them.

*When driving in Finland you must keep your headlights on at all times. It's been the law since 1982.

*Today, the sun rose at 9:22am and it will set at 3:08pm. That's only 5hours and 45 minutes of day light.