This holiday is celebrated annually on 6 December and marks the Declaration of Independence from the Russian empire by the Finnish Parliament in 1917.
Finland had been part of the Russian Empire since 1809. Following the Russian revolution and the defeats in the First World War, movements within Finland pushed for independence from Russia and on 6 December 1917, the parliament declared Finland as an independent state.
First celebrated in 1919, Independence Day was initially a solemn occasion with patriotic speeches and special Church services.
In more recent times the Independence day celebration has become a more vibrant occasion with the blue and white colours of the Finnish flag being proudly displayed in shop windows and bakeries producing cakes with blue and white icing.
An Independence Day tradition is for families to light two candles in the windows of their homes in the evening. This custom became commonplace during the 1920s and is said to recall a time when two candles were placed in the window as a sign to Finnish soldiers that the house would offer them shelter and hide them from the Russians.
It may also represent a custom of placing candles in windows on the birthday of poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg as a silent protest against perceived Russian oppression.