This autumn, all fourth and fifth graders in Helsinki have been invited to the Mayor’s Independence Day celebrations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebrations had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021. However, Helsinki wants to ensure that all age groups can celebrate this memorable event, hosted by the Mayor. This year, the celebrations will once again be held for two age groups at once. Next year, the annual celebrations for fourth graders will return to their traditional form.
“I am delighted to host such an important celebration – for me, as the Mayor, this is one of the most exciting moments and biggest events of the year! Not only will this event be a celebration of our country’s independence, but it will also be an important and unifying generational experience for Helsinki’s comprehensive school pupils. We can all be proud to live in an independent country and its great capital, where we can cherish a sense of community and shared experiences,” says Mayor Vartiainen.
Due to renovations at Finlandia Hall, the celebrations will be held at Messukeskus. Two separate events will be organised for fifth graders on Thursday 7 December and another two for fourth graders on Friday 8 December.
Surprise artists to perform
The guests will be delighted with refreshments and a programme including a concert by a different surprise artist on each day.
In addition to Mayor Vartiainen, the guests will be greeted by Deputy Mayor Johanna Laisaari and Head of the Education Division Satu Järvenkallas.
A group from Circus Helsinki will entertain those waiting in the greeting queue and the Guards Band will play entrance music. The street dance group Lucid Crew, which started out at the Malmi Youth Centre, will perform at the event. The event will be hosted by Anna Norros and Paul Uotila.
“Happy is all about freedom and fun”
The celebrations will culminate in a dance. The range of dance styles includes some classics: Cicapo, Jingle Bells, Jiffy Mixer, Rock, Letkajenkka and Happy.
Pupils and teachers alike have been looking forward to the celebrations. Pupils have been practising dances throughout the autumn in physical education classes.
Health and physical education teacher Tytti Mecklin has choreographed the dances. At the events, she will also dance on stage with her partner as a lead dancer.
“Dancing replaces the charged excitement of the occasion with the thrill of performing. It has been great to see how the pupils also appreciate the opportunity to express themselves, feel proud of their performance and be part of something bigger,” Mecklin says.
The idea for Happy was born when Mecklin wanted to add a more relaxed and free-form dance to complement the traditional partner dances.
Happy is all about freedom, fun and doing things together. The dance is built around repetitive dance moves, making it easy to pick up the choreography without any previous experience in dancing. The wide movements give the dancer a sense of freedom, while the changes of direction create a sense of community. The lightness and cheerfulness of the song guarantees a ‘Happy Feeling’ for the dancers!
You can watch the party on the Helsinki-kanava
Many homes are wondering what the appropriate dress code is for the celebrations. The City of Helsinki and Mayor Vartiainen encourage everyone to participate in the celebrations without too much pressure. Guests can dress up or down according to their own style, taste and opportunities. You can also borrow an outfit or look for a second-hand one.
Due to the large number of participants, it is not possible to invite guardians to attend the celebrations. However, they can stream the celebrations live on the Helsinki-kanava channel. Links to broadcasts can be found at the end of this article. Recordings of the broadcast will also be available on the channel for later viewing. Many schools also organise a dance performance for guardians on the day.
The City of Helsinki has been organising Independence Day celebrations for Helsinki fourth graders at Finlandia Hall since 1997. The celebrations, which bring together the entire age group of 10-year-olds, is hosted by the Mayor of Helsinki. The Helsinki Events Foundation is responsible for the overall planning and production of the event.