Finland is a hundred years old this week and it astonished me that I didn't know how recently it has existed as an independent country. Of course I knew some of the history but so much of what I remember now of our life there at the end of the 60's makes a lot of sense. When people expressed resentment towards Sweden and Russia I put it down to cultural differences developed over generations not realising how raw emotions were and how recent were the events that caused these emotions. The wife of one of our Finnish friends was part of the 1% Swedish/Finnish population. I found it hard to understand why other Finnish friends spoke negatively about her when to me she seemed very friendly and nice. One friend remarked that people outside Scandinavia believed that all the beautiful designs in glassware, pottery, furniture and fabrics came from Sweden when in fact most were produced in Finland. I came to learn that for myself. Another friend told me that her grandfather had never stopped mourning the loss of Karelia to Russia.
Now 50 years on I'm reading about people in Jyvaskyla, where we lived, celebrating the diversity of of it's population whilst in Helsinki there were multi-cultural Independence celebrations led by the President. Finland is a country to be admired, and I do.