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HISTORY OF THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT FROM 1800 UNTIL 1907


The Temperance Movement stranded to Finland in the mid-1800s. At that time, our society was strongly influenced by the Fennoman movement. Our own stamp and monetary unit were coming. The Snellmanian national spirit and political association were at their top. These campaigns were also hit by the temperance ideology, which spread to us especially from the West, where the concern for the domestic manufacture of alcohol was gaining ground. Authorities began to organize against it. Sobriety, and opposing the booze, was a suitable topic in Finland, and the intellectuals of that time began to collect funds for the printing of booklets on temperance.

The objective was to reduce the alcohol consumption among the common folk, and to distribute Finnish literature on the subject. After one year, the first booklets from the Raittiuskirjasten toimikunta (Temperance Booklets) committee, started on 1853, were published with the support of successful fund raising. They included Kolme päivää Sairion kylässä (Three Days in Sairio) by Elias Lönnrot, Rampa Lauri (the Crippled Lauri) and Paimelan ukko (the Paimela man) by unknown author. In 1858, a spooky picture book was published about Turmiolan Tommi, the alcoholic man of the family. It was created based on the earlier models from England. Later on, it has become the model on the Finnish drinker.

In 1860, the Temperance Booklets committee organized into a foundation and picked the name Raittiuden Ystävät (The Friends of Temperance). The objective of the foundation was to act as a central organization in order to decrease the depravity resulting from the use of liquor. The main membership consisted of academic youth, but after the exciting start, its enthusiasm waned because the idea of temperance seemed difficult to plant on the Finnish ground. After twenty years of silence, the organization was reactivated. In 1883, A.A. Granfelt - an excited man with a great organizational ability - was chosen as its president. Activity quickly spread out to the level of local organizations as the pace of the oral education increased. There were 37 local organizations to join Raittiuden Ystävät during the first year, by the end of which the total membership was 1673.

At this point, the temperance movement spread like wildfire all around the country, Tornio being the Northmost spot. In 1888, Raittiuden Ystävät became the main temperance association of the country. It only accepted such organizations as its members, which required total sobriety from their members. At the same time, the country was divided into seven temperance movement areas.

In 1902, the Temperance Degrees introduced by Väinö Voionmaa were taken into use, and they served to train professionals on the temperance work. In 1904, Raittiuden Ystävät gave the Government a proposal for reform of the alcohol legislation. It was based on the municipality prohibition law. The Government named a committee to address the issue. However, the adoption of the law fell when the general opinion turned to support the common liquor ban. In 1907, Raittiuden Ystävät proposed a liquor banning law to the Government of Finland. On that basis, the new unicameral parliament finally draw the general prohibition law. Since the Government did not confirm it, it came into force once Finland had gained independence in 1919.

The Temperance Movement had a significant role in building the Finnish society even in the decades preceding the political parties. The Temperance Movement was the first organized popular movement and also the most significant workers' organization before the general strike. The starting of the local organizations, which began in the 1880s, resulted in an unprecedented foundation that was used in many good purposes. For example, the organization combating tuberculosis was founded in 1907 with the help of Raittiuden ystävät.

In Hyvinkää the local organization called Raivaajat (the Sweepers) held its inaugural meeting at an elementary school (Aseman koulu) in 1901. The organization was the 421st to join Raittiuden Ystävät. In the early 1902, the membership was 65, and it stayed there until 1907. That's when the Hyvinkää Temperance House opened its doors.