Finnishness


How would I describe my lovely home country Finland to someone from abroad? First I’d probably confirm some of their prejudices: yes, it is very cold. Yes, people don’t talk much and sometimes can even seem rude. After this I would also deny some of the prejudices like “you have polar bears in Finland right?” and “you are always drinking tons of alcohol”. Not everything you read on the internet is true….

About the winters: yes they are actually cold, dark and long and I probably wouldn’t recommend visiting Finland between november and march or at least not the eastern part as the eastern parts might not even have snow. But there are some good things about the cold winters like going to sauna few times a week to warm up. Finnish people are well known sauna fanatics and I can say I’m one of those people who are crazy about going to the sauna. Sauna is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the warmth and even have a conversation with a stranger.
What’s better than going to the sauna? Ice swimming and then going to the sauna obviously. Ice swimming has gained lot of popularity during the past few years and new ice swimming spots are opening up.

So what about the summer then? Well, usually it’s really nice. Sun is shining non-stop and even the finns start to smile and even talk to strangers! Temperatures don’t go that high but sometimes they do and then everybody literally runs to the beaches to enjoy the warmth. Only downside of summer is the fact that it’s so short. So better enjoy every day of summer before it’s cold again.

Finnishness

” Finnish people are warm, open and sincere, even though they might tell you the exact opposite. ”

People from abroad tells us that it’s hard to get to know a Finn, because we’re so quiet and have a wall to protect us. I would consider it’s true, but there’s a reason for it. Let’s start with the small talk. We don’t do that, expect about the weather, that’s what we love to talk about. So that might be the first thought of Finns being a shy human.

      Usually in groups, Finn is the one who’s being polite and waiting for his/hers time to talk, but in international groups, that usually never happens. Because us Finns, we consider talking on top of another all the time, is rude. And I agree.

The wall infront us, it’s there but not everyone has it so up high as some Finns. I would consider the wall being our protector of people we yet to trust. After spending time with each other the wall usually gets broken a bit by bit and after that you’re really getting to know the warm and chatty Finn.

No other to say than, when you’re friends with a Finn, the friendship is real and loyal and we expect a total trust between that..

Finnishness

It’s often said that being born in Finland is like winning the lottery, and personally I completely agree. Finland has been selected to be ”the best country in the world” a few times, and it can sometimes be hard to understand why, because in Finland we are so privileged we don’t even know it. Here’s a few things what being Finnish means to me:

Democracy in Finland

The political system of Finland is following a system of parliamentary representative democracy. Even though political problems in Finland are a minor issue compared to another European countries, there is still a lot of discussion about them, which proves that the development and improving from the current situation hasn’t stopped. Every citizen in Finland have the right to collect support to a citizens’ initiative, and if it gets 50 000 signatures, the parliament is obligated to process it. Many laws have passed in Finland originating from citizen’s initiatives, which proves the state of democracy in Finland.

 

Citizen activism

Even though the current situation in Finland is good, there is always something that could be better. Finland has a lot of citizens interested in making a change, and for example organisations working for human rights, animal  rights or environment are active and visible in the everyday life of everyone.

There is still a lot of old-fashioned and undated laws concerning for example animal rights and sexual minorities in Finland, but the change is hopefully happening soon. Thanks to the many enlightened people fighting for a change! Big part of finnishness to me is being able to be part on making the nation a better place for everyone.

Finnishness

What comes to my mind when someone asks me to tell something about Finland? I’m sure I am not the only one who first starts to tell about how cold and dark are Finnish winters and how quiet and grumpy Finnish people are, But what else Finland and “finnishness” has to offer? When you really think about it, we do have rich culture and nature here in Finland. Winters may be dark and long, but then again during summertime sun is always up and it’s not too hot, but warm enough to survive in shorts and t-shirts.

How about people then, Why they are considered to be rude? In my opinion, I think Finnish people are extremely polite people and do not want to offend anyone or be a nuisance in any way. Thats why our behavior may seem odd and rude to someone else, who comes from another culture. And of course our culture lacks the thing called small talk. And we like to say that silence is golden, which I agree. Of course everything changes when you go to sauna with a finn. In sauna, there is even some small talk, whether it is about the löyly or last nights ice hockey game, it doesn’t matter, it’s there.

Finnish nature is also pretty exceptional (if you don’t really count Sweden or Norway). The whole landscape differs whether you are in southern, northern, eastern or in western Finland. That is something you have to keep in mind when you want to tell something about Finnish nature.

So, thats my thoughts about finnishness, from the land of long and dark winter, where the happiest people in the world lives.

 

“Finnishness”

Usually when somebody asks me about Finland, I tell them at first about cold weather, Northern lights and reindeers but finnishness is much more. It’s a lot of traditions, punctuality, good food and beautiful nature in all of four seasons.

 

 

Finnish food

Recently I noticed that when I travel, the first thing I start missing from Finland is  food. Salmon is definitely my favourite fish. You can cook it at many different ways or eat it raw. I am also proud of Fazer chocolate. No matter how much chocolate I’ve tasted, still the Fazer is the best of all. Rye bread is the third food I really miss. It’s higher in fiber than white bread and tastes really strong and good. In Finland we call it “ruisleipä”.

 

Traditions

My new most favorite thing at winter time is ice swimming. In Tampere I like to go to Kaupinojan Sauna because they have a big sauna and the place is very cozy. In ice swimming water temperature is under 0 °C and then people just swim in cold water.  After swimming you can hang outside and relax or go straight to sauna to get warm.

Picture: https://tikis.fi/lifestyle-miehet/avantouinti-ja-palautuminen/

We have also a lot of traditional celebrations, like: Vappu, Juhannus and Christmas. Vappu we celebrate in the first day of June. It’s a national holiday and feast for working people and for undergraduate students. At Vappu people usually hanging at the market place or at the park and it’s also the day when people use their graduation cap.

 

Picture: https://www.turku.fi/uutinen/2018-04-27_hilpeaa-ja-aurinkoista-vappua

Juhannus is a midsummer celebration and the time when Finns people leave from the city and spend a weekend at countryside. At wintertime we have a lot of darkness and at midsummer it’s the opposite. In the middle of the summer in Lapland, near by Arctic Circle the nights are really short or don’t exist at all. Some of Finns people also believe in magic. For example: if you look at midsummer night at a well or at a pond, you can see in there your future husband.

 

 

Finnishness?!?

The country, Finland, is  really nice country. It’s not that popular in China, so I only know when I really arrived in Finland. At the day when I came into Finland, I got suprised by the European style. This style isn’t just the style the house had been made, but all types of style.

Living style:

The first thing makes love Finland and feel the finnishes is the life style. I came to Finland and living in a Northern town. The people there are mostly elder people. I had many trouble not only on studying but the living as well. Sometimes, even the elder lady can’t speak and understand English, they still tring to help me with my troubles. This makes me feel so close to the people living there when I first get there.

After that, I moved to Tampere. Because I didn’t find the student apartment, I had to live in a private apartment with 5 females in it. It made me too nervourse. But even some of them are busy and having their own work, I can still get some help when I really getting troubles. For example: forget the key…

Even though Finnish people don’t  care too much on Famous Brand Products, but the promotion did effect on them. My living view is buying Famous brand Products and wasting lots of money even I don’t really need them. But I change my mind slowly after I had living fewyears in Finland. My friend also told me one story of her: She wastrying to find a shoe for running. She asked the waiter if there are some famouse brand shoes for running. The answer is “The most famous shoes for running is which can make you feel comfortable during your exercise.” Finnish people don’t foucus on the Famous Brand that much and this also causes less comparing.

Environment style:

The Finnish environment is the best of Finland. Finnish people has their mind and thinking to protect their environment. The recycling and separating the trash makes the environment clean and easy to reuse the resourses. In Finland, people separated the trash into different types of trash: paper waste, compost waste, glass waste, and other types of waste. With the different waste type, the trash will be separated already before enter into the waste factory. It’s efficient and clean for the people living in Finland. Because most of Finnish people had their own summer cottage, they don’t want to live in a forest surrounding by the waste.

Thoughts about Finnishness

When I think about Finnishness the first thing that comes to my mind is the peacefulness. In our culture peacefulness is appreciated in many situtations. For example we don’t care about too crowded places or too loud people. We appreciate quietness and calmness. I think that’s the reason why we love summer cottages so much. There we can enjoy the beautiful nature in all peace.

In Finland I love our four seasons. The beginning of every season feels like a new start and I think there is something magical with the midnight sun and with the darkness in the winter time. It is just amazing how much the nature changes through the year and that is something I think I will miss during my exchange in Austria.

To me Finnish people are humble and honest. I think the honesty is one of our best characters. It is important for us that you can count on people around you. Humbleness has it’s upsides and downsides. I think sometimes it would benefit us to learn to appreciate our own work and knowledge.

I think one of the best known thing from our culture is the shyness and quietness of the Finnish people. Partly I agree with this stereotype. Still I think that although some of us might be quiet, we are still very polite. I enjoy talking with people and being social, but still from time to time I appreciate the chance just to be quiet.

I think the best way to get familiar with the Finnish culture is to read the comics called ”Finnish Nightmares”. The artist Karoliina Korhonen has been able to summarise the Finnish culture pretty well!

Finnishness

Space & nature

To me finnishness means respect of ones and others personal space. The personal space that we have in Finland might seem too extreme and weird for foreign people, but I think that’s our own way of acknowledging and respecting other people. To me, having my own space gives me a feeling of safety too.

I grew up in a small city, so at least from my point of view Finland is quite peaceful and spacious. Nature is always close to us and our hearts. Finnish people value the silence and the peace that we get out of coexisting with the nature. We have clean environment and air, and we want to also keep it that way. People in Finland recycle a lot in my opinion and I know it’s getting more and more attention as we go by.

Clean nature

Communication

The stereotype of Finnish people is that we are either rude or very shy, but that’s not true in most of the cases. We are not rude even if it might seem that way, yes, many of us might be shy, but that can be easily misinterpreted. We can have small silences in our conversations and still feel comfortable and appreciated. We would rather say nothing than do some small talk. If someone in Finland asks you how you doing, we take it as that they really want to know what’s happening in your life and we don’t just give the typical small talk answer ”I’m fine”. We are truly honest and caring people, when you just get to know us.

My Experiences of Finnishness

    Sauna

In my mind there is nothing more Finnish than a sauna. We have over 3 million of them throughout the country and you can find one from everywhere: every a

Bath, Firewood, Design, Sauna, Blow, Hot, Health

partment building, family homes, hotels and even our government building has one! The cool thing

about sauna is that once you go in, everybody is equal.

You can be any size , shape, gender or color and all you have to do is get naked and jump up on the bench with the others.

 

 

 

Ice hockey

Players Playing Ice Hockey

The one thing that always brings the whole Finland together better than anything else is

our national Ice Hockey team, or as we call them “Leijonat”. We have witnessed this

magical phenomenon where every person is the friend of the one next to them,

three times as we have won the World Championship. Every time people storm the streets and marketplaces to celebrate together. And for the official ceremony there are thousands of people becoming one.

 

 

    Juhannus

Midsummer or “Juhannus” is

one of the only days in the year when Finland completely stops. Cities are empty, there is no traffic or

Fire, Flames, Bonfire, Sweden, Night, Evening, Outside

noise when everybody retreats to the cabins and nature to celebrate with their friends

 

and family. During Juhannus you enjoy the endless sun, and the warmth (if you are lucky) and just get in peace with yourself.it is my favorite celebration of the year and I’m looking forward for the next one already.

 

“Finland, that’s one of the Nordic countries, right?”

When telling people that you are from Finland, many don’t even know where Finland is.  If they do the most common stereotypes about our culture and country are snow, Lapland, Darkness, Nature, Northern lights, sauna, quietness, and sometimes our great education. Yes we are part of the Nordic countries and there are similarities, but Finnish culture is unique in its own ways.

For me Finnish culture has many layers and constructs from different aspects.  Some pillars for me would be nature, traditions, peacefulness (unless we win the hockey championships) and personal space.

Nature:

As Finland has so much nature that is free for everyone to explore and enjoy, it has become a vital part of our culture and so called “Finnishness”.  There are lakes, forests, sea, fields and so many other scenery all around Finland that everyone can find their own form of nature that they like. And due to Every man’s rights (jokamiehenoikeudet) we can all enjoy the nature freely, given that we respect and treat it as a living organism that needs to be looked after. We go to the nature to find peace from the busyness of the cities and to get some exercise. Nature is integrated into our everyday lives, Finland is not called ‘the land of thousand lakes’ for nothing.

Traditions:

 

Finns are really traditional and it can be seen in our culture.  Of course culture changes as time passes but ancient traditions can be still seen in our culture even today. Sauna culture is one of these old traditions that doesn’t seem like ever going away. Sauna is part of our big holidays like Christmas and Midsummer as well as everyday routines. Other traditions like traditional dances (seen in the picture) are still danced in these events called ‘lavatanssit’. One can see that this tradition will go on because there are people from different generations attending the dances.

 

Peacefullness and Personal space:

 

Like earlier mentioned, Finns like to go out to nature to get some peacefulness in their life. I think that is one of the reasons we were voted the Happiest country in the world last year. Finns are hard working but we know how to find the balance between free-time and work and we know how to relax. People go to a summer cottage for some peace and relaxation.  With this comes the personal spaces. Finns like their own time and spending time with their selves whether it’s at home, at the cottage or in nature. We function best if we find a good balance of own time, socializing, working and free time.  Personal space appreciation can also be seen in buses: If there is a empty space somewhere in the bus, Finn will not sit next to another person but rather choose a seat all by them selves.

 

These are few points that I think means to be Finnish and tells what Finnishness is. I enjoy and respect our culture and think I will miss some of the aspects while I am doing my exchange. Let’s see shall we!

 

-Niina