The event itself was held in Old Orangery, located in Lazienski Park. We had a slightly different opinion with my map, what was still considered to be 'in Lazienski Park', but after a while searching the place, in the rain, with my fancy dress, I found it - stylishly twenty minutes late. The programme started at 7pm with a cocktail hour, and the menu was designed to represent Finnish flavours. They were offering dishes including reindeer meat, whitefish, Karelian pies and "breadcheese" with cloudberry jam just to mention few of them. I had hard time to find a translation for leipäjuusto, since the straight translation sounds just stupid. Google is offering me a word "Finnish squeaky cheese", which is actually quite well expressed!
Since the only Finn I knew from Poland, Tuuli, was going to London on the next day - I went to the event by myself. I decided to socialize a bit, since it would've been too boring just to get drunk alone. I did something really untypical, and started a conversation with few girls who looked around my age. It turned out that they were studying Medicine in Bialystok, and most of them had been living in Poland for several years already. In this "tiny town" Bialystok, they have a relatively huge community of Finns, which I found weird, since I haven't been able to find a single Finn from the city as huge as Warsaw. Well of course now when they were gathered to the same place, it was much easier, and I eventually met two Warsawian Finns!
With Bialystok-squad, who quickly adopted me to their group, we continued to a restaurant. It was a good call since I could not eat that much in the event, for obvious reasons. One guy from the group turned out to be from the same small area in Tampere where I've also lived, and we found out that we've been hanging out in same groups before! Again I had the feeling that the world is so small. At some point of the evening, I started to wonder how absurd it was so spend the whole evening with the people I had just met. Sometimes it takes just a small push out from your comfort zone and you end up to the weirdest situations, potentially leading to something good. As they said: "Well, you happened to pick a good table" - I surely did!
In a meanwhile, Finland was celebrating the independence day in traditional way. At least most of the people. I read about the demonstrations, and to not go too detailed in those, strictly speaking I do not think those demonstrations should be part of the independence day (or any other day in that matter...) Demonstrations such as 612 and "Kohti Vapautta" were luckily smaller than expected, nevertheless I still find it, slightly saying, disturbing that nazis and fasicsts are able to walk under these slogans, freely in Finland. Despite these marginal demonstrations, I am glad how these issues are being dealed with right now in the court. The Nordic Resistance Movement was banned and convicted illegal in the end of November.
Maybe the fact that I've been living abroad for awhile now, has helped me to appreciate Finland in a -different way. Some things I've taken in granted, but the distance has helped me to see features that are unique to Finland compared to other countries. I am grateful for our honest society, honest people who you can trust. You can leave your wallet to the bus, and know that there is a higher possibility to get it back than not. I am grateful for the safe, clean and peaceful environment where I've had a privilege to grow. I am grateful to have benefitted from one the world's best education systems. I am proud for being from a country which was and is a pioneer with fighting for equal rights and gender equality. My Finland is multicultural, tolerant and respectful.
Hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää, Suomi 100 vuotta sekä hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää suomalaisille ja suomalaismielisille! <3