March 19 is Minna Canth’s Day

March 19th: An official flag day in Finland for Minna Canth and Social Equality

Were you wandering the streets of Helsinki today? Or any part of Finland for that matter? Did you notice the number of Finnish flags flying? Any yard that boasts a flag pole would have been flying the national flag. Today the flags were flying for two reasons: the anniversary of Minna Canth‘s birth in 1844 and celebration of social equality in Finland.

This flag day has only been official since 2007, previously it was at the discretion of building managers and owners whether they would hoist the flag or not. What’s more, Minna Canth was the first woman to be awarded an official flag day. This year there appears to be 19 official days throughout the year when the flag should be flown.

Minna Canth is remembered for her writing and social activism. It is no accident that the Finnish Day for Equality falls on her birthday. She was an early advocate in improving the position of the poor and women. A widow, raising seven children on her own, she also managed the family drapery shop and pursued a career in writing.

Her writing was not limited to one format: she was a journalist, short story writer and a playwright. Her plays continue to be performed today. In the latter part of her life she established her own periodical and edited that also. It was a short-lived venture although it did introduce new ideas to the Finnish populace.

While you may not find so many monuments in and around Helsinki, you will find Minna Canth street in Töölö:

If you travel further afield to the city of Kuopio you will find much more as the greater part of her life was spent living in this beautiful lakeside city.

Minna Canth statue in Kuopio, decorated for summer
(Image Credit:Kuopion Matkailupalvelu Oy )

Lastly an oft published picture of the writer herself:

Minna Canth, writer and champion of social change.
(Image Credit YLE)

On a totally personal note, it’s my mother-in-laws birthday today also!