The Ministry of the Interior, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, and the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) are encouraging municipalities to celebrate newly-naturalised citizens as a way to commemorate the centenary of Finnish independence, Paula Risikko (NCP), the Minister of the Interior, reveals in an opinion piece in Helsingin Sanomat.
“Even though acquiring Finnish citizenship is an important occasion, in most parts of the country it is currently rather unceremonious,” she writes.
Some of the approximately 10,000 people who are granted citizenship every year do nonetheless have the opportunity to celebrate naturalisation in public. Turku and its surrounding municipalities, for example, have organised ceremonies for newly-naturalised citizens for some time.
Risikko states that municipalities are currently being encouraged to find new ways to celebrate new citizens, ranging from to a seminar to a game of pesäpallo, the Finnish variant of baseball. “The most important aspect is interaction in accordance with the theme of the anniversary, ‘together’,” she says.
The idea of organising citizenship ceremonies was floated earlier this week by Lena Hartikainen, the executive director of the League of Finnish American Societies. She reminded in an opinion piece in Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday that acquiring citizenship has always been celebrated in the United States.
Risikko, meanwhile, reminds that all municipalities in Sweden have had the statutory obligation to organise an annual citizenship celebration since 2015.
Finland, she adds, is not currently considering resorting to a statutory obligation but hopes that local governments deem the issue important enough to make citizenship celebrations a permanent tradition.
Migri has according to her requested municipality-specific lists of over 18-year-old residents who were granted Finnish citizenship during the course of 2016 from the Population Register Centre. Municipalities can request the lists free of charge from Migri.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Seppo Samuli – Lehtikuva