Graduation time

The past weekend was high-school graduation time in Finland and my eldest god-daughter celebrated her graduation in the Åland Islands, where she lives. This tiny haven of peace is situated in the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland and consists of a small group of islands, which belong to Finland, but enjoys independent government guaranteed by Finnish law. The national language is Swedish and Finnish is taught in schools as a foreign language. Facts about Åland

Traditional Finnish graduation cap worn by students who’ve completed the matriculation exam. Similar ones are used in Sweden.

My god-daughter’s graduation was a traditional Åland one, making it a mixture of both Finnish and Swedish traditions. Preceded by a long stretch of exams earlier in spring (which is typically Finnish), the festivities begin at school, where parents and relatives gather to celebrate those who graduate.

Afterwards the students go for a ride around town, waving and shouting at passers-by. Then they return to meet their families outside school, for a Swedish tradition called the “Utspring”, which means they all run out singing, to receive hugs, greetings, flowers and cards from friends and relatives.

From here the party continues at home, where everybody is invited to enjoy food and drink. Usually, for the students, the evening ends with a night out on the town with fellow-graduates. Sometimes in the form of a fancy grown-up-style dinner banquet at a posh restaurant.

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