From your Editor in Chief
Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence this year with many great events. It was with this celebration in mind that I received the following email from a gentleman in Kouvola who has a great interest in history and especially European history.
The email came after a recent discussion in Eltville, a small village on the Rhine near Wiesbaden. I spoke about Finland’s 100th year celebrations and he replied that Finland is far older than 100 years. Unfortunately, we did not have time to have a full discussion (our respective wives were with us) so he decided to summarize his thoughts in a short email, which I have translated here:
You asked me the other week if it is true that Finland is 100 years old? That was a good question and in my opinion, Finland has always existed for much longer, even though the people who reigned over us were living elsewhere.
I truly believe that I am a Finn, and know exactly who my forefathers were going back 300 years. During that period, the people who reigned over my family were the Swedish kings for 43 years, followed by for the Czars of Russia for the next 174 years. This last 100 years, Finland has had its own political leaders, after we gained our cherished independence from Russia.
During all these decades, my family enjoyed long periods of peace, in their own backyards, without fear of being overheard when they laughed and poked fun at his Lordship’s foolhardy acts and at the Royal Imperial Orders. They also surrendered and revolted against these monarchs.
Even before these 300 years, the Finnish language was spoken and written. My Finland is this country and the people who have lived here, through whom I have received my identity.
Some are claiming that Finland is 100 years old, while others are claiming that it was founded in 1809 in the town of Porvoo, where they organised the first Finnish Parliament. Perhaps they are right, but we know very little about the period before 1809, because all the papers from that period were burnt in the fire in Turku in 1827, the former capital of Finland in those days.
I often wonder if Sauna and the Finnish “Sisu” (a Finnish word meaning “determination and courage to press ahead under terrible stressful conditions”) and other similar peculiar national characteristics were created in 1809? Of course not! There can be no doubt that they developed as part of the national heritage far back in earlier generations. Neither was my Finland started with the invasion of Finland’s soil by the Swedes who established Finland’s capital in Turku.
No, Nicholas, Finland is not 100 years old. My Finland started its existence many centuries ago, a really long time ago… This always comes to mind when I look at the cave paintings in Verla, where my family has lived already for 300 years. Those rock paintings date back some 7000 years!
Hannu Pukkila is an active amateur expert historian, and a firm believer in his longer national heritage