Onneksi Olkoon – Congratulations to all Swedish Finns

Today, 24th February is ‘Sverigefinnarnas’ Day, the day that celebrates the roughly half million Finnish-speaking people who live in Sweden. According to Wikipedia:

”Sweden Finns (ruotsinsuomalaiset in Finnish, sverigefinnar in Swedish) are post-World War II immigrants of Finnish origin, and their descendants, living in Sweden, some of whom still speak Finnish in addition to Swedish. In 2012 there were about 426 000 people in Sweden, 4.46 percent of the total population, who were either born in Finland or had at least one parent who was born in Finland.[2] But since only the country of birth is registered in Sweden, not ethnicity or language, a considerable number of those registered as being of Finnish origin are actually of Finland-Swedish descent. According to “Finlandssvenskarnas Riksförbund i Sverige”, the national organisation for Finland-Swedes living in Sweden, around 20% of all people of Finnish origin who live in Sweden are Finland-Swedes, and were thus Swedish-speakers even before emigrating to Sweden.[3]

In the 1940s, 70,000 young Finnish children were evacuated from Finland to Sweden during the Winter War and the Continuation War. 15,000 are believed to have stayed and an unknown number to have returned as adults.

In the 1950s and 1960s the migration from Finland to Sweden was considerable, chiefly due to economic differences between the countries, as a result of Sweden not being involved in World War II and helped by the Nordic Passport Union. The emigration caused some alarm in Finland with most of the emigrants in their most productive age — although many of them returned to Finland in the following decades. Many of the Finns who have moved to Sweden have been Finland-Swedes (i.e. from the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland): In the 1950s they made up around 50% of the Finns moving to Sweden, and from the 1960s and onward around 20-30%. (Thus, the fact that a person in Sweden has a Finnish background does not automatically mean he or she has a Finnish-speaking background.)

The city of Eskilstuna, Södermanland, is one of the most heavily populated Sweden Finnish cities of Sweden, due to migration from Finland, during the 1950s until the 1970s, due to Eskilstuna’s large number of industries. In Eskilstuna, the Finnish-speaking minority have both a private school (the only one in the city of Eskilstuna, there is no public school or teachers in Finnish at the public schools. Only the lower level is in Finnish, upper level is in Swedish) and only one magazine in Finnish. Some of the municipal administration is also available in Finnish.

The unofficial flag

Areas with Finnish-speaking population in per cent, in southern Sweden, 2005

In the Finnish mindset, the term “Sweden Finns” (ruotsinsuomalaiset) is first and foremost directed at these immigrants and their offspring, who at the end of the 20th century numbered almost 200,000 first-generation immigrants, and about 250,000 second-generation immigrants. Of these some 250,000 are estimated to use Finnish in their daily lives,and 100,000 remain citizens of Finland. This usage isn’t quite embraced in Sweden. According to the latest research by Radio of Sweden (Sveriges Radio), there are almost 470,000 people who speak or understand Finnish or Meänkieli, which is about 5.2% of the population of Sweden.

In the Swedish mindset, the term “Sweden Finns” historically denominated primarily the (previously) un-assimilated indigenous minority of ethnic Finns who ended up on the “right” side of the border when Sweden was partitioned in 1809, after the Finnish War, and the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland was created. These Finnish-speaking Swedes are chiefly categorized as either Tornedalians originating at the Finnish–Swedish border in the far north, or skogsfinnar (“forest Finns”) along the Norwegian–Swedish border in Central Sweden.”

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