Finland gained its independence on 6 December 1917. On Independence Day, the Church gives thanks for freedom and independence, and the country and its people are remembered in prayer.
The liturgical colour is white. If the day falls on the Second Sunday of Advent, purple or blue may also be used. On Independence Day, many visit cemeteries to remember those who fell in war, and the service from Helsinki Cathedral is broadcast on television.
On the evening of Independence Day, it has become customary to light two candles in the window between six and eight o'clock. The candles may represent a pre-war signal to the light infantry that a house was a safe place to seek refuge. They may also represent home and nation, or the veterans and victims of past conflicts.
National Prayer Days
Since the sixteenth century, days of prayer have been observed every year by government decree. Following constitutional reform in 2004, churches assumed responsibility for the prayer days.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, prayer days are held on 18 January (for Christian unity) and 24 October (for peace, human rights and international responsibility).
The President of Finland declares the ecumenical prayer days every year, either on the day of prayer for Christian unity or on the preceding Sunday.
When the prayer day falls on a Sunday, it is not usually observed at the main Sunday service, but noted in other ways.