Thursday, March 19, 2009

Minna Canth Women's Rights Activist Flag Day

Minna Canth was born Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnsson on March 19, 1844 in Tampere. She was a Finnish writer and social activist on behalf of womankind.

She began to write whilst managing her family draper's shop. She was coping with life as a widow and caring for seven children too! Addressing issues of women's rights, she particularly worked with regard to permitting the expression and realization of women's aspirations in Finnish culture.

An innovator of Finnish literature, and a pioneer of realism, she bravely took part in social debates, as well. She was curious and open to new European ideas and was an important influence on public opinion in Finland at that time. Her play "The Pastor's Family" is her best known work. Työmiehen vaimo (The Worker's Wife) is another. In it, the main character Johanna is married to Risto, an alcoholic who wastes all his wife's money. Johanna cannot prevent him - her money is legally his, not hers. The play's premiere caused a scandal, but a few months later, parliament enacted a new law about separation of property.

In her time, she was a controversial figure, due to her strength of belief for her point of view and the fact that her ideas were asynchronic with that era's society. She died, aged just 52, on May 12th 1897 in Kuopio.

Minna Canth is the first and only woman so far to have received her own flag day in Finland. However she had to wait quite some while for it to to start - which was not until March 19, 2007!

So, today is EQUALITY DAY! I look forward to more women being recognised! Thank you Minna Canth!

Flag Days are religiously followed in Finland, by Law, the Finnish flag MUST be flown from public buildings on certain days:

Feb 28, Kalevala Day/Finnish culture Day
May 1, Vappu, Labour Day
Second Sunday in May, Mother's Day (Good Reason I say!)
June 4, Carl G.E. Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland/Finnish Defence Forces Day
Saturday between June 20-26 June, Midsummer Day/Finnish Flag Day and on this occasion the flag is hoisted on Midsummer eve and flown all night!
December 6, Independence Day
Any election or referendum day
The day the President of Finland is inaugurated

The other eleven flag days are purely an established custom, although it is recommended that the flag is flown as if it were law and I would say that they are. Those days celebrate noted Finnish citizens and events.

Information sourced from and (Finnish Language site)