Sunday, December 6, 2009
Today is Finnish Independence Day, or Itsenäisyyspäivä, celebrating Finland's independence from Russia in 1917 and in honor of the occasion, we have now added Finnish to our Third String Goalie Hockey Name Generator!
Itsenäisyyspäivä is celebrated with the customary public flag displays and decorations in the blue and white of the Finnish flag and most businesses remain closed for the day as people attend parades, concerts, festivals and street parties. There is also an annual military parade each year.
The festivities begin with the traditional raising of the flag in Tähtitominmäki (Observatory Hill) in Helsinki, followed by a service at the Cathedral of Helsinki, where the President of Finland is present prior to hosting a televised banquet known as Linnan juhlat (The Party at the Castle) in the evening for around 2000 invited guests with war veterans in attendance as the guests of honor.
Some people still keep with the Finnish Independence Day tradition of putting two candles in the window at night, a sign in earlier days that invited friendly troops into that home for food and shelter and symbolize the light of freedom or one candle for home and the other for homeland.
The Finland National Team first appeared at the World Championships back in 1939. Their next appearance was not until 1949 when they became regulars at the World Championships. A perennial mid-pack team, it took them until 1992, a span of over 40 years, to earn their first medal of any kind. Once the floodgates opened, they captured silver in 1992 and 1994 before reaching the pinnacle with World Championship gold in 1995. Two fifth places in 1996 and 1997 followed before a run of four medals in row with silver in 1998 and 1999, bronze in 2000 and silver once more in 2001. A bit of a slide saw then finish 4th, 5th, 6th then 7th from 2002 through 2005 before returning to the medal podium with bronze in 2006, silver in 2007 and bronze again in 2008 prior to this year's 5th place.
Finland's hockey team first appeared at the Winter Olympics in 1952, and aside from 1956, has appeared in each Olympic hockey tournament since, becoming a regular medal contender in the mid 1970's, with a fourth places in 1978 and 1980. They won their first medal in 1988 with a silver and took bronze in both 1994 and 1998. In the last Olympics in 2006 they again won silver and head into the 2010 games ranked 4th.
Finland has also participated in the Canada Cup and it's successor, the World Cup of Hockey, taking home the silver medal in the 2004 World Cup in the 6 times it has competed.
The Finland National Team has honored Jari Kurri by retiring his #17 national team jersey, the only player to be so honored.
Today's featured jersey is a Tackla 1991 Finland National Team jersey. With the #91 sublimated onto the back and no player name, this appears to have been sold in conjunction with the 1991 World Championships which were hosted by Finland in 1991 in Turku, Helsinki and Tampere.
This jersey is not a 1991 Canada Cup jersey, as their 1991 Canada Cup jerseys had the very stylized, and frankly cartoonish, lion head logo as worn by Teemu Selanne on his rookie card.
Everyone loves a parade, and Finland is no exception, only their Independence Day happens during a slightly colder time of year than we are used to in North America. Check out the group at 6:09 of part 1. I can't tell if they are enjoying the parade, or just waiting to finally cross the street. We won't blame you if you skip ahead to part 2, which contains some cool military hardware.
Check this out, from Heinola, Finland - the World Sauna Championships!
Sauna Championships not exciting enough for you? Perhaps the World Wife Carrying Championships are more your style, where the winner receives his wife's weight in beer.
Finally, here are highlights from the final game of the 1995 World Championships, as Finland faced off against rivals Sweden for the gold.