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Axel Lille

Axel Johan Lille
Born March 28, 1848, Helsinki. Died June 28, 1921, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts 1872 and Master of Arts 1873, Bachelor of Civil and Canon Law 1879, Licentiate and PhD 1882, Imperial Alexander University
Studies in Strasbourg a Leipzig 1879–1880

Permanent assistant 1919–1921, Åbo Underrättelser
Press attaché 1918–1919, Stockholm
Executive director 1917–1918, Kaupunkien yleinen paloapuyhtiö (fire insurance company)
Editor-in-chief 1914–1917, assistant 1917–1921, Dagens Press
Journalist 1902–1905, Stockholms-Tidningen
Editor-in-chief 1900–1901, Dagligt Allehanda
Editor-in-chief 1882–1900 and 1906–1914, Nya Pressen
Journalist 1873, Wiborgs Tidning
Journalist 1870–1874, Vikingen

Founder and chairman 1906–1917, Swedish People’s Party in Finland
Member of Parliament 1917, Swedish People’s Party in Finland
Representative of the Burgher Estate in the Diet of Finland 1884–1900
Trustee, 1879 Nyländska afdelningen (Uusimaa Student Nation)

Honours and eponymously named awards
The Axel Lille Medal 1956–, The highest honorary medal awarded by the Swedish People’s Party in Finland.
Honorary member 1888, Nyländska afdelningen (Uusimaa Student Nation)

Picture : K. E. Ståhlberg / Helsinki City Museum
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by Matthew Billington

Finnish Swedish Heritage Day

At the beginning of the 20th century, many Finns in Swedish-speaking circles were concerned about the preservation of Swedish cultural heritage in Finland. The reformed Swedish People’s Party of Finland, which represented Swedish-speaking Finns, decided at the initiative of its chairman, Axel Lille, to establish a special day to commemorate Swedishness and Swedish cultural heritage. There was no clear choice for Svenska dagen – Finnish Swedish Heritage Day. One option was November 29, in remembrance of the Diet of Porvoo, but March 6, the day that Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden fell at the Battle of Lützen, nevertheless felt more appropriate. Today, the choice of date is not a question of honouring a warrior king but of remembering a reformer of the Swedish state. During the language disputes and nationalist radicalism of the 1930s, Finnish Swedish Heritage Day was associated with unrest, particularly in Finland’s largest cities, which had substantial Swedish-speaking populations. In Helsinki there were even clashes on the street between radical Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking youths.

Finnish Swedish Heritage Day has been an official flag day in Finland since 1979. Today, many schools, kindergartens, societies and associations, among others, arrange their own Finnish Swedish Heritage Day celebrations in Swedish-speaking areas. The unofficial ‘national anthem’ of Swedish-speaking Finns, Modersmålets sang, also plays a central part in the celebrations.


In the recording above from Yle Archives, Akademiska sångföreningen (The Academic Male Voice Choir of Helsinki) presents, at its 160th anniversary celebration, the song Modersmålets sång, composed and written by Johan Fridolf Hagfors.


  • Max Hanemann, Axel Lille. En levnadsteckning (A Biography’), Helsinki 1931
  • G. von Bonsdorff, Svenska Folkpartiet. Bakgrund, tillblivelse och utveckling till 1917, Helsinki 1956.
  • Lars-Folke Landgrén, ‘Lille, Axel Johan’, Biografiskt lexikon för Finland (online publication). Accessed November 2, 2015.
  • ‘Axel Lille’, Wikipedia. Accessed November 2, 2015.
  • ‘Lille, Axel’, Uppslagsverket Finland (online publication). Accessed November 2, 2015.
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