The annual mayor-hosted Independence Day celebration for fourth graders. Photo: Pertti Nisonen

Helsinki postpones Mayor’s Independence Day Reception for fourth graders

The annual mayor-hosted Independence Day celebration for fourth graders in Helsinki has been moved to the spring of 2021 because of the coronavirus situation. Under normal circumstances, the reception would have taken place on Thursday, 3 December in Finlandia Hall.

Each year, the Mayor of Helsinki hosts the city’s fourth graders for a grand celebration of Finnish Independence Day. Several receptions are arranged back-to-back for the entire age group, with the same content: welcoming handshakes, speeches, catered food, dancing, and a thrilling stage performance from a surprise music artist. Last year, a record 6,086 children attended the event.

Children normally prepare for the Independence Day reception throughout the autumn by rehearsing numerous traditional partner and circle dances in school. Learning the dances while maintaining the recommended safe distances is unfortunately not possible, and social distancing during the reception itself would prove very difficult. For this reason, the City of Helsinki’s Coronavirus coordination committee has decided to postpone the mayor’s reception until spring 2021.

“Each December, I have had the honour of organising the traditional Mayor’s Independence Day Reception for the city’s fourth graders. It has become an absolute highlight of my year; a work responsibility that I hold in the highest esteem. At the moment, however, an event of this nature and size is impossible to arrange in a responsible way. This is why it is best to move the reception to next spring. I’m sorry about any disappointment this might cause for the children and their guardians. We’ll celebrate together when it is once again safe,” says Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

The Mayor’s Independence Day Reception is an annual City of Helsinki event organised by the Helsinki Events Foundation.