December 6th is a very important day in Finland and for Finnish people in general. On this day Finland’s Independence Day is celebrated, one of the most awaited holidays in Finland. For this reason, our guest for this episode is Soila Sariola, a Finnish musician, singing teacher, singer and mother. And it is our honour to have her as a guest for this episode, as she is the first Finnish celebrity guest on Mastering Finland Podcast!
Soila comes from a musical family and she has studied folk music. During her studies, she was taught also saxophone lessons. Nowadays she’s focused mostly on singing and teaching and she sings at an acapella group “Lauluyhtye Rajaton”, a group that has been active for over 20 years.
Petra discusses with Soila Finland’s Independence Day celebrations, the so-called “linnan juhlat” (=castle celebrations) in Finnish, how it became an annual tradition and how the hand-shaking with the President of Finland was established. A few historical milestones for the celebration of Independence Day in Finland, according to Soila, are:
- 1917 - Finnish Declaration of Independence
- 1919 - The first-afternoon reception with the President of Finland and other officials
- 1922 - The first big ballroom dance, a reception as it is today
- 1949 - The Finnish press invited for the first time to the reception
- 1967 - First live broadcasting of the reception on the television
As mentioned previously, Soila is the first Finnish celebrity guest on our podcast. What is more, in 2012 she also was invited to the official Independence Day celebration, something that was a very important event for her. That year, the celebration theme was “suomalaisuus”, meaning “Finnishness”. For this reason, the folk group she is a part of, “Saaga Ensemble”, was invited to perform. Soila shares with us the most special moment for her:
“Our president couple stepped in and they showed us that ok, now it's time to stop and we still wanted to play one song and we all started singing in that room, also Niinistö and Haukio, and it was such a great and special moment and this kind of feeling of unity and Finnishness!”
Besides the official celebration, Soila shares with us the way Finns, in general, celebrate this day. Watching on television the official celebration program is the most anticipated part of the day. In addition to that, the Finnish flags are raised outside and people might go to graveyards to put candles in memory of people who fought for Finland’s independence. Two candles, a blue and a white one (colours of the Finnish flag) are placed by the window at homes. Some families might also dress up well and wear their traditional Finnish costumes.
Considering Soila’s background and this special day for Finland, she sings for us at the beginning of the podcast one of the most prominent songs of Finnish history, “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius. Closing the podcast, she sings the song “Kulkuset” aka “Jingle bells”, as we are approaching the Christmas festive days!