Independence Day Reception at the Presidential Palace

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

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

Finland’s Independence Day was celebrated with a reception hosted by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio at the Presidential Palace on 6 December 2022. The theme of the reception was Finland as a nation that trusts in itself.

This year, the guests at the reception  included people who have worked for the benefit of Finnish society through difficult times and have strengthened Finland through their actions. “We also wish to honour those who have selflessly helped their neighbours. At the same time, it is perhaps good to remind ourselves that the need for help is not over and, in the case of Ukraine for example, it has not gone away,” said the President.

The number of guests at the reception was approximately one third smaller than in previous years. Around 1,300 people from different parts of Finland had been invited. Among the guests were healthcare professionals, people responsible for overall security, volunteers, and experts working on the success factors of the future.

A significant proportion of the guests had been invited for the first time, while this year there were fewer guests traditionally invited in their official capacity. The guest list included people originally invited to the 2021 Independence Day reception.

The presidential couple had invited the Independence Day guests of honour, war veterans and members of the Lotta Svärd, to their own reception at the Presidential Palace in the week before Independence Day.

At a press conference held at the Presidential Palace on Thursday, 24 November regarding the Independence Day reception, President Niinistö reminded that Finland’s Independence Day will be celebrated this year under very different circumstances than in 2019, the last time the reception was held. The pandemic has posed challenges in many ways and it still persists. At the same time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shocked the entire Western world.

“It might feel like there are very few reasons to celebrate, but Independence Day and the reception nevertheless present a good opportunity to show gratitude and respect. When times are hard, there is all the more reason to show gratitude and respect.”

Health security considerations

In addition to the smaller number of guests than usual, health security was taken into account in other arrangements at the reception. Among other things, many hand disinfection points and air filters were installed throughout the Presidential Palace. Face masks were also be available for those who wished to wear them.

Guests had been asked to be considerate of others and to stay away from the reception if they felt ill, had coronavirus symptoms or had recently been in close contact with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19. Invitees were also asked to take a rapid coronavirus test before arriving at the reception.

Music cherishing traditions and the Finnish soulscape

On Independence Day, the music in the Hall of State was provided by the Guards Band and the Guards Combo, with soloist Maria Lund. The music selections had been made cherishing traditions and emphasising Finnish music.

Jukka Perko Avara and friends  performed for guests in the third-floor salon. Their programme  honoured the late actor and musician Vesa-Matti Loiri, selected instrumental versions of whose repertoire, adapted for Independence Day, were performed.

Finnish produce and environmental friendliness emphasised again in catering and decorations

Finnish produce and environmental friendliness were again  emphasised in the catering and decorations of the President of the Republic of Finland’s 2022 Independence Day reception.

Finnish organic produce, fish and game were served. Raspberries from Kultaranta, the President’s summer residence, as well as blueberries and other Finnish berries were used in sweet dishes. This year, natural materials, flower and plant seed pods and cut flowers were used in the decorations.

Furthermore, the traditional cooperation with educational establishments continued at the 2022 reception. Culinary students of the Turku Vocational Institute  workrd in the kitchen, and students of the Perho Culinary, Tourism and Business College  assisted with serving.

Independence Day greeting from the President of the Republic of Finland to Finnish expatriates and Finns abroad on 6 December 2022