I’ve never really felt connected to ”Finnishness” or as I’ve thought it to be before. I hate the violent sullen attitude towards other cultures and I never saw much point in being proud of a nation and a people just because I was born into one.
I’m not saying that all, or even most Finns are weird nationalists, but they are the loudest ones in media when Finnishness is being discussed, and for the most part of my life I honestly haven’t felt good about being Finnish.
What I do feel connected to is nature and some traditions that have been a part of my life since I was just a baby. I believe they make up the best part of being Finnish.
Finnish nature is all about them lakes. (And swamps, I’ll get to that later)
Finland is the country of thousands of lakes. Here in Tampere we are surrounded by them and I swim almost every week.
Even though it’s mostly me and some senior citizens swimming in the cold water, I enjoy it.
The cold is incredible.
Earlier I went in slowly and relaxed in the water. I would find my center and try to keep my breath steady, because the cold pressure tends to make me panic and start hyperventilating.
Now in late October the water is already really cold and I need the sauna to warm my feet in between dips to the lake.
I’ve talked with some people there and one older lady really impressed me; she said that she swam all through the year because it was the best way to keep the pain off her joints.
We talked about nature and how people today seem to be too busy to see the living, changing beauty around them, and how you can really see and feel where all the art and music comes from when you just take the time to look at the nature all around us.
She was special.
And then swamps. Melancholy, eerie, unsafe for the unwary, glorious.
Here’s a video:
I like walking in my neighbourhood in the winter. Tampere is really beautiful when covered in snow.
My grandfathers are really the ones I have to thank for my appreciation of nature. They taught me to swim, to build a fire, to recognize different trees and to move in the woods.
I used to go on long hikes with my grandfather on my mother’s side with his dogs and If I could choose one childhood memory to relive, one of those hikes would be it.
Christmas, or yule, is my favourite. I am not religious, but I still go crazy over the decorations, foods and presents. I sing christmas songs already in October and I love the warm cozy feeling of christmastime. I try to tone it down but it just makes me giddy.
In Finland education is still valued highly. That may change in future years, but now at least the matriculation examination is a big deal every spring.
My grandparents were pushy about me going to upper secondary school to put it mildly and my graduation was probably a bigger deal to them than it was to me.
The parties after the ceremony are big deal.
To sum it up, these are the things that come to my mind when I think about true Finnishness. The world is changing and I hope that people won’t forget the things that are important: our connection to the nature and kindness. Talking to children about their culture and teaching them to accept others as well as themselves.
In my opinion Finnishness should be about just that. Acceptance.