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Finnish "husband" pennants

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by christopher oehler
Keywords: husband flag | pennant | husband pennant | vimpel | viiri |
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Overview on Finnish Husband Pennants

Finns at their summer cottages (very important for the vexillology of Finland; it was at these cottages, away from the prying eyes of imperial officialdom, that Finns first experimented with Finnish flags) fly, other than on flag-days, a pennant signifying the part of the country the husband hails from.

Most of these are based on the nine counties into which Finland is traditionally divided. These have long been abandoned as administrative units, but seem still to be quite important socially.
John Ayer, 26 December 1998

Znamierowski, in The World Encyclopedia of Flags, attributes them as provincial flags of Finland:

Finland is the only country where the provincial flags, which display the livery colours, consist of very long pennants.

Phil Nelson, 23 December 1999

I'm convinced that this is another mistake in Znamierowski's book: These pennants seem to be the usual nordic "empty pole place holders", vimpel - the Åland and Finland pennants for this series seems to confirm this.

Of course the other provincial pennants doesn't necessarily stand for existing provincial flags (in a more usual format), as they may have stemmed directely from the coat-of-arms to "landesfarben" pennant. But even so I'm skeptical as to name these streamers "provincial flags"...
António Martins, 25 December 1999

I find the information expounded by John Ayer to be the most plausable, i.e. being older. In fact, the word province in Znamierowski is a problem here, as there are presently only 6 provinces, therefore leading me to conclude he used the word "province" incorrectly in this instance.

Subsequent to this, I was ferreting into Finland when I came across a county that currently uses a similar one as its official flag, albeit the case appears rare. As Antonio notes, this was based on the COA. But it did illustrate the flag in a manner whereby one can assume that the attribution of the colors reversed in either of the two sources could be a result of how this was observed. The "flag" was attached to the pole via a single lanyard. This means that the flag has the capability, which we don't see in many other countries, of twisting on the vertical axis as wind currents affect them. Therefore the possibility of error in recording these flaglets as an observational element is potentitally greater than with flags which are fixed to the hoist. Of course, observational elements are probably the worst of any documentation given the high percentage of errors that can result in interpreting material.

But to agree with Antonio, here, these should not be used to say that "all" flags Finland are pennant-like, as Znamierowski implies in his brief, one sentence description of Finland. In following the URLs that were sent last year (1998), many of the flags that were identified on the Internet are no longer present, but the three that are definitely are not wimples. Therefore, Znamierowski's statement is a conclusion, not a definite fact.and at least two of the three (the third I have not yet confirmed) are based on the local COA.
Phil Nelson, 25 December 1999

According to my fiancée Heidi (who is Finnish), this kind of pennant is used by ordinary people and raised to show that they are at home. In Finnish it is called isännänviiri, which means something like "husband pennant"; viiri is Finnish for pennant. The Swedish word is husbondsvimpel.
Elias Granqvist, 28 and 30 December 2002

The colors do have on "official" order confirmed by the association Suomalaisuuden Liitto (roughly translated as the Society of the Finnish Heritage). Listed from top down, they are (I list only the non-symmetric patterns):

I double-checked the list from two sources, and I'm quite certain it is correct. As mentioned on the discussion page, the colors are as likely seen upside down as in the official order due to the way they are hung. However, it may be of some interest to know, which way the colors are designed to be.

They are based on the colors of historical provinces, which do not exist anymore. They have no legal status such as the official state flag has. This fact does not prevent them from being popular! Their use is not restricted to summer cottages, they are flown at the flagpoles of permanent homes as well, especially in the summer. The pennant indicates where the husband of the house comes from, and at the summer cottages it's quite normal that the neighbors fly different colors.
Heikki Kauppi, 19 February 2007