Saturday, November 6, 2010

All Saints Day--Flag Day

Halloween this year fell on a Sunday. Halloween in Finland is not the massive candy splurge it is in the United States although I know some Finnish Americans were able to enjoy the holiday (they trick and treated in their own house!). Any kid in this country will tell you the name of the street that has the best trick and treating. At our house the destination of choice is Auburn Street. Sophie and Nate have scampered up the hill to enjoy the decorations and overwhelming generosity of our Auburn Street neighbors for the past six years. Candy canes, ice cream cones, full sized candy bars--it could be a child's idea of the Sampo spilling good things for those precious hours on October 31.

While Halloween is not celebrated in Finland, All Saints' Day is--it is celebrated today, Saturday, in Finland. The flags are flying and the shops are shut. Why is it being celebrated on November 6 rather than November 1? Well, Hesari explains in this paragraph that I copied from the English on line edition of the paper:

Just the usual quick reminder that a public holiday is coming up.
This time it is All Saints' Day, although there may be some of you who wonder why that was not on November 1st, seeing as how Halloween is supposed to be the 31st of October, and today is already (at least for the British non-Roman Catholics) the 5th of November and Guy Fawkes' Day.
It's all connected with the Finnish habit of celebrating some religious festivals on "the closest Saturday", which happens in this case to be tomorrow.

My friend Mari told me that one advertisement on the front page of Hesari wished everyone a "nautinnollista pyhäinpäivää" which wishes everyone an enjoyable Saints' Day. Perhaps an odd sentiment as the day is an opportunity to remember and reflect and visit the graves of your loved ones.

I can understand enjoying All Saints' Day. I love visiting cemeteries. The oddly purple pictures above were taken in the Turku cemetery this past April. We visited the cemetery, famous for the Bryggman chapel and then went across the street to the moving pet cemetery.

And here to enjoy on Finnish All Saints' Day is Oi kallis Suomenmaa, a song that was played frequently at funerals during WWII.


  1. The flags are not flying on All saint's day, this year it happened to be on "The Swedish Day" and that is a flagday!Many finns doesn't even know there's such a day!

  2. Thanks! I am posting a correction. See my next blog post--when I have it done in about an hour.