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Made in Finland, grown in Australia

BETWEEN CULTURES: Maaret Sinkko grew up in a Finnish household in Australia. Her family spoke Finnish at home until 1972. August 25 marks 100 years since the country declared itself independent. Finns across the world are marking the anniversary with Finnish Your Dinner celebrations.
BETWEEN CULTURES: Maaret Sinkko grew up in a Finnish household in Australia. Her family spoke Finnish at home until 1972. August 25 marks 100 years since the country declared itself independent. Finns across the world are marking the anniversary with Finnish Your Dinner celebrations. Kerri-Anne Mesner

"MADE in Finland, grown in Oz."

That is how Yeppoon's Maaret Sinkko started to explain her origins when she talked about her links to Finland and the country's upcoming 100th anniversary of being an independent country.

"What a lot of people don't know is that Finland was the great battleground between Sweden and Russia," Maaret said of the country her parents came from.

Despite being inhabited since the last ice age ended, the northern Europe country was subject to wars between other countries or groups of people for centuries.

It declared itself independent in 1917 after the Russian Revolution.

Finns across the globe will be celebrating the independence anniversary on August 25 with Finnish Your Dinner events - some public, some private.

Maaret said her parents moved to Australia with her older brother Martti while her mother was pregnant with her.

Maaret said they moved Brisbane where she was born, as was her younger brother Kari.

After a few years, Maaret's parents separated and her father moved back to Finland with Martti.

Maaret's mother married another Finnish man and the family settled at Inala on the outskirts of Brisbane.

Inala was a migrant community at the time.

"By large Finns are quite reserved. They just keep to themselves," she said.

"Because I grew up in Australia, I'm very loud, boisterous. Whereas, you meet my older brother... he's very quiet, very reserved."

Maaret said while she grew up in Australia, she still grew up Finnish.

"We spoke Finnish in our house. We stopped in 1972. My parents said 'we are in Australia, we need to speak like Australians'," she said.

"It (the family home) was decorated in the Finnish customs. We went to the Finnish Lutheran Church. We went to the sauna every Saturday night. We socialised with Finns.

"We would have knuckwurst and mashed potato every Friday as opposed to the Australian tradition of fish and chips.

"We decided to modernise (that meal) to hot dogs and potato salad. Thursday was pea and ham soup day.

"That (all) gradually eroded."

Maaret did go back to the country where she "was made'' in 1993, where she was reunited with her father and older brother, along with meeting an array of family members.

"I found out I had seven half brothers and sisters," she said.

"The beauty of social media is it makes it easier to keep in touch."

Maaret and her seven-year-old son are looking at travelling the El Camino de Santiago Trial in Spain in a couple of years. She will add a trip back to Finland to introduce her son to her extended Finnish family.

Topics:  culture finland maaret sinkko yeppoon



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