The themes of this year’s Independence Day Reception were knowledge and discussion in society

Photo: Juhani Kandell/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

The President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio hosted the Independence Day Reception at the Presidential Palace on the 6th of December 2019.

Knowledge and discussion in society configured as the main themes of the reception. Many of the guests were people and representatives of institutions that, through their own actions, have promoted discussion in society and the dissemination of reliable information. As in the previous years, the buffet and decorations drew upon locality and eco-friendliness.

1700 merited guests

About 1700 people, who have distinguished themselves in various ways, had been invited to the reception from all over Finland. In keeping with the theme of the event, the guests included researchers, non-fiction writers, journalists, professional educators as well as authorities and experts.

Finnish war veterans and members of the Lotta Svärd were guests of honour. They were the first to be greeted by the presidential couple at 7 p.m. to the tune of the Jäger March by Sibelius.

Music reveals the Finnish soul

The Guards Band performed the music that played during the greeting ceremony in the Hall of State. The pieces of music had been selected by the band with regard to traditions. The anniversary year of Armas Järnefelt, a Finnish composer, was also be reflected in the repertoire. Dancing begun with the opening waltz selected by the presidential couple, which was this year Raimo Roiha’s Maailman kaunein maa (The Most Beautiful Country in the World), made famous by Reijo Taipale, a beloved singer who passed away earlier this year.

Additionally, the guests were entertained by the Guards Combo featuring Laura Voutilainen and Lauri Mikkola, who performed Finnish evergreens in the Hall of State dance floor.

The boys choir Cantores Minores performed with 41 singers at the coffee event for veterans and lottas. The performers, aged 11–26, were part of the representative choir. One of the compositions was performed in honour of the veterans and lottas is Veteraanin iltahuuto (Veterans’ Roll Call) by Kalervo Hämäläinen.

At the third floor salong, entertainment was provided by the well-known a capella ensemble Club for Five. Their repertoire at the Independence Day Reception was based on Finnish national landscapes seasoned with music from other parts of the world.

Finnish raw materials with minimum impact on the environment

The buffet served at the 2019 Independence Day Presidential Reception again highlighted Finnish food and eco-friendliness. The buffet included a wide selection of organic products as well as fish and game. Desserts were prepared using highbush blueberries from Kultaranta garden and other local berries.

Environmental considerations also played a part in the drinks selection. For example, the reception’s traditional punch was this year made entirely from local organic ingredients.

Cooperation with catering institutes of education continued at the 2019 reception. Assisting the kitchen and waiting staff were a total of 32 students from the Perho Culinary, Tourism & Business College. Some of the products were also prepared by the students.

Blue-white flower arrangements in honour of the Independence Day

For the 2019 Independence Day Reception, the Presidential Palace was decorated with blue and white flowers. These mostly included cut flowers cultivated in Finland as well as currently fashionable dried flowers and other natural materials.

Flowers came mainly from Finnish gardens that use domestic renewable energy sources in growing the plants. Most of the flowers and decorative materials were a gift from the Finnish Glasshouse Growers’ Association in honour of its centennial year. Flowers and natural materials from Kultaranta, the President’s summer residence, were also on display.