Order of the Cross of Liberty, 3rd class with swords
Order of the Cross of Liberty, 3rd class with swords

The orders, decorations and medals of Finland form a system through which the Finnish government shows its respect to persons who have distinguished themselves on some walk of life. The legal basis of the system is the Act on the displays of public recognition (1215/1999) which grants the president the authority to issue decrees on orders, medals and titles.

The system is divided into three groups:

  1. orders
  2. decorations and medals
  3. titles

Orders, decorations, and medals

Orders

There are three official Finnish orders:

The President of Finland is the grand master of all orders. Of the orders, the Order of the Cross of Liberty is the most distinguished and awarded the most seldom. Its decorations are awarded only for military or national defence merits, although the order is not purely military: civilians may receive decorations of the order for national defence merits. The other two orders are awarded both for civilian and military merits. The bulk of the decorations are awarded twice a year, on 4 June on the Flag Day of the Finnish Defence Forces, and on the Independence day, 6 December. In total, there are about 6.000 awards a year.

The orders of the White Rose and the Lion of Finland have a common board and chancellor, while the Order of the Cross of Liberty has a separate board and chancellor. All orders are awarded by the president of Finland.

The Order of the Cross of Liberty is always awarded "with swords" to military persons, with an additional ribbon in rosette form (see image in the beginning of the article) for combat or war-time merits. The decorations of the Order of the White Rose of Finland are awarded "with swords" only for combat merits and the decorations of the Order of the Lion of Finland only for war-time military merits. As such merits are usually recognised by decorations of the Order of the Cross of Liberty, the awards of the Order of the White Rose of Finland "with swords" have been vanishingly rare. The decorations of the Order of the Lion of Finland were awarded "with swords" mainly for merits incurred in home front service. No awards of either order have been issued "with swords" for merits incurred after the Second World War.[1]

In addition to the three official orders, there is one semi-official: the Order of the Lamb of God [fi] of the Orthodox Church of Finland.[2]

Decorations and medals

The cross of merit of customs service with a clasp, a typical Finnish branch-specific cross of merit. The cross is awarded by the minister responsible for customs for distinguished service or contributions to the customs service. A cross with a clasp may be awarded in special cases.
The cross of merit of customs service with a clasp, a typical Finnish branch-specific cross of merit. The cross is awarded by the minister responsible for customs for distinguished service or contributions to the customs service. A cross with a clasp may be awarded in special cases.

The individual areas of government have usually a separate awards system designed to show respect for those persons who do not qualify for an order. Such medals are founded by a presidential decree. Most typically, they include one or two classes: a cross and a medal. Thus far, the following medals have been founded [3]

In addition, there is a state decoration for 30 years of service of state. The corresponding decorations of the Central Chamber of Commerce and City of Helsinki the League of Finnish Municipalities are also approved for use with the official decorations.[2] Other decorations of private bodies may only be used privately.

The awarding body of the medals and crosses of merits varies. Although the decorations are founded by the president, the awarding body is usually the chief of the authority in question, i.e. a minister or a high-level civil servant.

Order of precedence

The official order of precedence is:[5]

  1. Grand Cross, with Collar, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  2. Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  3. Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  4. Grand Cross of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  5. Mannerheim Cross, 1st Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  6. Cross of Liberty, 1st Class with star
  7. Commander, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  8. Commander, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  9. Mannerheim Cross, 2nd Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  10. Cross of Liberty, 1st Class
  11. Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  12. Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  13. Great Cross of Merit of the Finnish Sports [fi]
  14. Finnish Olympic Cross of Merit, First Class
  15. Medal of Liberty, 1st Class with rosette, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  16. Medal of Merit in gold of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  17. Cross of Mourning of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  18. Medal of Mourning of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  19. Cross of Liberty, 2nd Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  20. Cross of Liberty, 3rd Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  21. Cross of Liberty, 4th Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty, for war-time merits
  22. Knight, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  23. Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  24. Badge of Merit of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  25. Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  26. Cross of Liberty, 4th Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty (for peace-time merits)
  27. Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  28. Knight of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  29. Cross of Merit of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  30. Cross of Merit of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  31. Cross of Merit of the Red Cross of Finland
  32. Medal for Life-saving [fi]
  33. Finnish Olympic Cross of Merit, Second Class
  34. Medal of Liberty, 1st Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  35. Medal of Merit, 1st Class, of the Cross of Liberty
  36. Medal of Liberty, 2nd Class, of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  37. Medal of Merit, 2nd Class, of the Cross of Liberty
  38. Memorial Medal with Rose of the War of Independence
  39. Medal, First Class with golden cross and clasp, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  40. Medal, First Class with clasp, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  41. Medal with clasp, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  42. Memorial Medal of the War of Independence [fi]
  43. Memorial Medal of the war 1939-1940 (Winter War) [fi]
  44. Memorial Medal of the 1941-1945 war (Continuation War) [fi]
  45. Memorial Medal of the Mine Clearing [fi]
  46. First Class Medal of the Order of the White Rose of Finland with golden cross
  47. First Class Medal of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  48. Medal of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
  49. Medal for Military Merits [fi]
  50. Medal of Merit, in gold, of the Red Cross of Finland
  51. Medal of Merit, in silver, of the Red Cross of Finland
  52. Pro Benignitate Humana -medal
  53. Medal of Merit, in bronze, of the Red Cross of Finland
  54. Finnish Olympic Medal of Merit
  55. Cross of Merit of the War Invalides
  56. Cross of Merit of the Police
  57. Cross of Merit of the Frontier Guards
  58. Cross of Merit of the Fire Defence (Fire Cross)
  59. Cross of Merit, in gold, of the Finnish Sports
  60. Cross of Merit, in silver, of the Finnish Sports
  61. Medal of Merit, First Class with clasp, of the Civil Defence
  62. Medal of Merit, Second Class with clasp, of the Civil Defence
  63. Medal of Merit in silver with golden cross, of the Finnish Sports
  64. Medal of Merit First Class, of the Civil Defence
  65. Medal of Merit in silver, of the Finnish Sports
  66. Medal of Merit of the Frontier Guards
  67. Medal of Merit Second Class, of the Civil Defence
  68. Medal of Merit in bronze, of the Finnish Sports
  69. Cross of Merit, of the Prison Administration
  70. Medal of merit with clasp of customs service
  71. Gold Medal of Merit with clasp of the Reserve Officers Association
  72. Medal of Merit of the Association of the National Defence Guilds
  73. Medal of merit of customs service
  74. Cross of merit with clasp of Reservists' association
  75. Medal of Merit with clasp of the Association of the Warrant Officers'
  76. Gold Medal of Merit of the Reserve Officers Association
  77. Cross of merit of Reservists' association
  78. Medal of Merit of the Association of the Warrant Officers
  79. Medal of Merit of the Engineering Officers' Association
  80. Medal of Merit of the Cadet Corps
  81. The medal of merit of traffic safety branch
  82. The special medal of merit of work for working environment
  83. Medal of Merit, in gold, of the Police
  84. Medal of merit of motor transport
  85. Memorial Crosses and Memorial Medals of the War of Independence, Winter War, and Continuation War and other Crosses of Merit and Medals of Merit of patriotic activity in chronological order[6]

Titles

Further information (in Finnish): Titles of honor in Finland [fi]

Although a republic, Finland has a tradition of awarding titles for distinguished citizens. The available titles are listed in the presidential decree on titles (381/2000). The titles are classified in 16 categories of precedence. The two highest titles are valtioneuvos/statsråd (literal translation English: “state counsellor”) and vuorineuvos/bergsråd (literal translation English: “mountain counsellor”). The former is usually awarded to most distinguished, retired politicians, while the latter is meant for the CEOs of the largest Finnish companies. Less distinguished titles span different walks of life. Curiosities include liikenneneuvos (English: traffic counsellor), kotiseutuneuvos (English: home district counsellor) and nuorisoasiainneuvos (English: youth affairs counsellor). In total, there are about 100 different titles. A Finnish title is purely honorary, causing no responsibilities and giving no privileges. All Finnish titles are non-hereditary.

Typically, the titles are awarded by the president. There are some exceptions, however. The chief judge of a district court may award the title of herastuomari (English: judge of the county) to a lay judge with a long service.[7] The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church, on the other hand, have the right to award the titles of director cantus and director musices.[8][9] Yearly, the president awards over 200 titles on the advice of the titles' board. The awards take place twice a year: in March and in September.[10]

In addition to honorary titles awarded by the President, certain honorary titles are awarded ex officio to state civil servants in leading positions. For example, the managers or section chiefs of several state research institutes automatically hold the title of professori ("professor"), if they are qualified for tenured faculty position in a university.[11]

A stamp tax is paid for a title. The tax varies with the rank of the title and can be quite substantial for the higher titles. Customarily the organization that proposes the title pays the tax.

See also

References

  1. ^ Miekkojen kera. Ritarikuntien kanslia. Retrieved 2015-07-25. (in Finnish)
  2. ^ a b "Muut kunnia- ja ansiomerkit". Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun ja Suomen Leijonan ritarikunnat. Archived from the original on 2014-12-21. Retrieved 2006-09-06.
  3. ^ Ritarikunnat. Muut viralliset kunniamerkit Archived 2007-08-21 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 9-6-2004.
  4. ^ "Finland's state honours system from independence to the start of the Winter War (1918–1939)" (PDF). Ritarikunnat. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Mitkä ovat kunniamerkkien nimet ruotsiksi ja englanniksi?" (in Finnish). Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun ja Suomen Leijonan ritarikunnat. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Kunniamerkkien keskinäinen järjestys" (in Finnish). Vapaudenristin ritarikunta. Archived from the original on 2022-02-04. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  7. ^ Käräjäoikeuslaki (581/1993) (in Finnish)
  8. ^ Kirkkolaki (1054/1993) (in Finnish)
  9. ^ Laki ortodoksisesta kirkkokunnasta (985/2006) (in Finnish)
  10. ^ The whole section is based on The Council of State webpage on titles and its subpages, retrieved 9-6-2007. (in Finnish)
  11. ^ Autio, V.-M. Professorin viran ja arvon kehitys Suomessa. Published in Suomen professorit 1640–2007. Retrieved in 2009-10-01. (in Finnish)

Further reading