Sunday, December 5, 2010
Itsenäisyyspäivä translates to Independence Day in Finnish.
These are photos I shot at the estate of the late Finnish composer Jean Sibelius when I accompanied Mayor Bill Bogaard and his field representative, Judy Kent, to Järvenpää, Finland, in summer 2008 for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of our sister city relationship.
Finland was gobbled up by Russian Czar Alexander I in 1809 and declared its independence from Czar Nicholas II on Dec. 6, 1917.
Sibelius composed the iconic "Finlandia" for a pageant in 1899; Czar Nicholas II banned it because it became so identified with Finnish national aspirations.
There's a statue of Czar Alexander II in Helsinki. He's considered the "good czar" by Finns because when he came into power in 1855 he agreed to let them maintain their Lutheran faith and the laws of their land.
Here are Judy Kent, Mayor Bogaard and I at the Helsinki statue, posing for a "Star-News on Vacation" shot:
I want to give a special shout-out to Leena Ritala-Skoutaris, a special friend in Finland:
Happy Itsenäisyyspäiväm, Leena!
The photo of Leena was shot by Judy Kent.