Finland ponders whether to forbid the Summer Hymn at schools

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The Finnish suvivirsi, or Summer Hymn, may be forbidden at schools for having religious overtones, according to YLE in English. Such plans, which are under review by the national board of education, have raised stiff opposition from Finland’s most conservative and nationalistic politicians like Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen and anti-immigration Perussuomlaiset (PS) chairman, Timo Soini.

Näyttökuva 2014-3-25 kello 8.27.15

Read full story here.

Deputy Chancellor of Justice Mikko Puumalainen called on the Board of Education to see if the suvivirsi runs counter to religious freedom, equality and neutrality at Finnish schools.  

In order to understand this debate, we’d have to look at it from Räsänen’s and Soini’s perspective.

Räsänen, who is a member of the Christian Democratic party and who considers homosexuality to be a sin, said that the board of education and schools should not under any circumstances forbid the suvivirsi. “…the best practices and traditions inherent in Finnish culture are weighed again in very conflictive interpretations,” she wrote on her Uusi Suomi blog.

Soini, who is a staunch Catholic that opposes abortion and gay marriage, is naturally against forbidding the singing of the suvivirsi at schools. “It a part of Finland’s spiritual landscape and cultural traditions,” he was quoted as saying on Ilta-Sanomat. “This is totally incomprehensible.”

Räsänen and Soini represent, in my opinion, a Finland that still believes that our society must not change even if our society becomes ever-culturally and ethnically diverse.

The fact that our society is more diverse today puts under scrutiny some of our traditions like the  suvivirsi.

Instead of attacking minorities and migrants in this country for putting the suvivirsi under the spotlight, we should ask why schools should be secular institutions and the role of religious freedom in our society, which is not under question.


  1. Yossie

    “The fact that our society is more diverse today puts under scrutiny some of our traditions like the suvivirsi.”

    And this is what is wrong with the your multiculturalism. You dare to call it diversity when people need to give up their traditions. Your multicultural pipedream only lead to country being full of different groups with different values biggering with each other and possibly more if thing go wrong (plenty of examples of this in the world) or different groups come together with the smallest possible denominator.

    True diversity is when different traditions have their own areas where they can live without getting threatened. If world were to live with the way you seek diversity, world would be less diverse.

  2. elmeri

    You are a real journalist?

    Tell you the truth, I don’t like your style.

    You don’t like Soini and Räsänen personally, or why do you link this suvivirsi debate to these two. stiff opposition? really? What does Räsänen’s views of homosexuality or Soini’s catholism got to do with this. Staunch catholic, do you know something I don’t? against abortion? He hasn’t actually said that, you are putting words into his mouth, right?

    You do this all because you want the reader to view these persons in a negative light? But why don’t you let the reader make up his own mind, why do you want to force your views to the reader?

    “Räsänen and Soini represent, in my opinion, a Finland that still believes that our society must not change”

    You cannot say this based on the suvivirsi debate. Singing suvivirsi is not religious practice or worship and Soini is right, it is part of our cultural traditions. So the song mentions Jesus Christ, some biblical places, so what? Bible is important book, even if you are not a christian. I am an atheist, I have read it (well, I skipped some boring parts.)

  3. Toiset Soundit

    I think Soini and Räsänen are bigots and racists. No problem with stating that.

    Banning the Suvi virsi however is utter bollocks. I would prefer to see other songs coming from other traditions being sung than throwing away a long-standing cultural tradition which was never intended to exclude anyone.

    People who want to ban i t because it contains some references to Christian traditions are just being intolerant in my mind.