ON behalf of the Finnish community, I'd like to reply to the 'Backbites' piece headlined, 'Relieving the boredom' (Sunday Morning Post, December 3).
With the advent of Finnish Independence Day, the writer found it amusing to write an utterly insulting account of Finnish traditions, indicating that he/she either has no real knowledge whatsoever, or has been misinformed. I shall endeavour to clear up this misunderstanding, thus restoring Finnish integrity.
The suggested customary way of celebrating National Day is wrong on two accounts. Firstly, the 'extensive research into Finnish tradition' sounds more like a single story generalised into a 'tradition'. Secondly, the writer doesn't seem to have his facts straight. What ever may be said about Finnish drinking habits, and yes, it is probably correct that a few people drown every summer at Midsummer's Eve celebrations, any Finnish person would confirm that our Independence Day is the one day in the year when 'getting drunk' is out of the question. For historical as well as psychological reasons, the Finnish celebrate December 6 in a wholly solemn and dignified manner.
Unlike other countries that gained independence through victory or conquest, and consequently celebrate National Day with wild parties, the Finns had to pay dearly for freedom, both in the White-Red War in 1918-20 and the Winter War in 1939-40. The Finns are a quiet and reserved people, and only open up and let loose on specific days of the year, such as Labour Day, New Year, and Midsummers Eve. On December 6, however, the Finnish people fall deeper into their silence, remembering those who have passed away in the fight for freedom, and acknowledging the significance of their efforts. So, to those who have read the tasteless bit of what I judge to be British humour, I'd like to say that there would not have been wild parties at Finnish homes in Hong Kong on the 6th. Instead, there were two candles lit up in the window, in memory of the deceased.
WILHELIMIMA ITKONEN Mid-Levels