Monthly Archives: January 2018

The real Finnish stereotypes

Nature reserve in Southern Finland.

What is it like to live in Finland? For me it means clean air, quiet green forests, snowy fields and in the summer a sunny archipelago. I absolutely adore my home country when it comes to the peaceful nature where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the somewhat busy lifestyle. The weather isn’t that nice most of the time, but when it is, you really come to appreciate it and make the most of your time outdoors. You really come to value the little things living in Finland: a little ray of sun in the morning can make your whole day. Everywhere is pretty in the summer and people are beaming happiness. Or some of them, because it’s a common joke that it’s always either too hot or too cold. The Finns are pale most of the year but in the summer they turn red or if they are lucky, get nicely tanned and that’s how you have achieved the most important task in the summer.

Peace and quiet.

Finnish people are pretty quiet but if you start talking to them, you rarely get an ill answer. Still, do not sit next to someone in a bus if there are free seats, that’s one of the most important things you need to learn if you come to visit Finland. It will make everyone cringe. Being a Finn is pretty neat. You get ”free” education and monetary support to your studies from your government. Our education is great compared to other countries and our academic skills are well valued. It’s also really safe here. Top 3 biggest fears, at least for me, are being bitten by snake (which we have 2 kinds of which nether is deadly venomous and are only seen in the nature in summer), killed by a bear (which is really unlikely) or being stabbed (usually involves intoxicating substance usage and debts so for normal citizen this fear is also very unlikely) We really are proud hockey people and we always want to win the Swedish. Besides drinking milk like newborn babies and being coffee addicts, one of our biggest pet peeves is using alcohol – and usually too much of it. Still, I’m lucky to be a Finn and even though in the future I plan to live abroad for a while, I still want to live most of my life in Finland.

A colubrid snake in archipelago.

Living in Finland

Finnish people have their very unique way of showing their pride of being Finnish. Unlike other countries we don’t wear Finland flags colors in our clothes etc. We have a more settle way of showing our pride. Here are few things that we are proud of and are happy to show others when talking about Finland.

  1. Sauna 

Oh how much we love the sauna. It’s a place were one can relax on your own or with family and friends and place to catch up on things with them. It is also a place were you are completely naked and present yourself the way you are.

2. Fazer

 

Fazer is a brand Finnish people seem to be proud of even though we don’t talk about it. Frazer is not originally from Finland but it has made it’s way to our hearts. Salmiakki is also popular on top of chocolates and other sweets. We are brought up to like this candy and it’s always fun to see foreigners trying it.

3. Nature

We might not have sun all the time but our nature finds a way to keep our spirit up even though its dark most of the year.  Most of Finland is covered with forest and lakes. Population is also spread quite a bit so there is always quiet place when one can relax.

4. Others

-School system

-Healt care

-Lack of small talk (good in a way that when you meet Finnish people they show their politeness by giving you space and getting to know you in time.)

 

Who are the Finns?

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me and asked where I live. When I said “Finland”, I was asked where that is. “Next to Sweden.” – “Ah yeah, I know Sweden.”

I originally come from Germany, so that will be my point of reference. The Finnish culture is a lot more reduced and life is in a way simpler: problems get solved quicker and easier, its okay if something is not completely clean or beautiful and people are modest and close to nature.

The whole population of Finland (5,5 mio.) lives in Berlin, but is spread over the same area as Germany (≈ 358.000 km²). That results in people not bothering each other and leaving each other in peace. And since there are a lot less people involved, important decisions (such as gay marriage) and cultural and technological advancement are processed much quicker. Internet, infrastructural connections to everywhere and modern technology are a standard.

But on the other hand the Finnish lifestyle is more relaxed, simpler and cleaner. The motto is “Pragmatic before pretty”. Use as little words as possible (bonus points for abbreviation or not talking at all), rather wear the crumpled, warm winter jacket than the latest Gucci coat and don’t buy too much unnecessary decoration and furniture. Don’t beat around the bush and say immediately what you want. But the Finnish culture can be very open and caring in an indirect way.  The everyman’s right (jokamiehenoikeus) permits everybody to enjoy outdoor activities (camping, hiking, gathering mushrooms, berries etc.) in every forest and fell as long as you leave people and the environment undisturbed.

Another unwritten rule is: praise the home country. Not as fanatic as a certain English speaking country , but please buy only products that have been produced in Finland if possible (Marimekko, Makia, Arabia, Nokia, Fazer, etc.). Last year, when Finland turned 100 years old, every product everywhere was covered with Suomi100 stickers and Finns went nuts. Rightly, Finns are proud of their independence and home country and show that in an open, but modest way.

If possible, Finns retreat back to nature on many occasions. There is a deep connection to nature that is enjoyed by hiking, camping and resting in the summer cottage (mökki). It often bears the bare necessities: a bed, a kitchen, sofa, table and most importantly: sauna. Sauna belongs to Finnish culture like jam to peanut butter. It can be found in every household, providing stress relieve, health and warmth. 

 

 

 

 

In earlier times it as always build first in the house and even was a primitive labor room.

Life as a Finn

Finnish people are pretty individual. We might have a close relationship with our family and friends, but otherwise we might be circumspect and distant. We like to keep our own space and not to come too close to other people.

Finns are really exact. If we agree to do something on a certain date, we will do that. And we like to be on time, rather 5 or 10 minutes early, and we don’t like if someone else is late from an agreed time.

 

We are effective and we don’t like to keep our customers waiting. That’s why you can assume fast service almost everywhere you go.

Finns do not like to talk about money or politics.

There’s no small talk, and it doesn’t represent rudeness or a lack of interest.

There are no hierarchies. Everyone is equal and deserves the same amount of respect.

 You can buy wine only from Alko, which is a State Alcohol Company. We don’t tend to drink wine often, for example with a dinner. Alcohol itself is served more like on special occasions.

In Finland there’s no big income or social differences. A plumber and a lawyer can be great friends and no one thinks it’s shameful or weird.

 

Fun fact: In Finland there’s a verb called ”kursailla” and it means that when a host asks you to sit on to the table to drink coffee and eat, no one will do that. Usually the atmosphere is also really tense. I think it’s because everyone wants to show as much hospitality as possible, and we think it’s rude to be the first one drinking and eating.

Pictures attached are taken from Finland, Tampere and Nokia. They represent very well Finland’s different seasons.

My kind of Finnish culture

Nature is the most important value we have in Finland. All the forests and lakes are our pride and we want to make sure that this uniquity will pass to the next generation. The forests offers us a place to enjoy some peace and quiet and its variety serves a chance to collect the treasures of the forest in autumn: blueberries, lingonberries, mushrooms.. Especially hiking has lifted up its profile recently and it has become really popular all over our beautiful country. Hikers are privileged to see extensively what our nature is about.

We have over 180 000 lakes so it is quite understandable that we often enjoy our spare time by the lakes. You can swim, row, surf, go fishing or just enjoy the magnificent views they offer. In winter you can also go and skate on the lakes or go ice fishing.

In Finland we are privileged to enjoy the purity of nature, its drainage system and everyman’s right that allows us to enjoy freely our forests and lakes.

Finnish holidays

Each country has its own holidays, as well as Finland. Around the year Finns spend a variety of celebrations, some are known around the world, but some are Finns own story. Like everyone probably knows, Finland is located in north where the sun does not rise at all during the winter. Umh, and the winter lasts almost nine months in Finland… or at least the dark and cold time.

Fortunately, Finns have these holidays that cheer up in the middle of darkness and coldness. Okay, luckily we have also a three-month summer when the sun does not drop even at the night.

New Year’s Day

The very first holiday at the year is New Year’s Day. (First of January) The day, when everyone is tired of yesterdays celebrating and fireworks shooting. It’s also a day, when New Year’s promises keeping starts. Someones promises to save money, someones promises to start a diet. And very traditional Finn New Year’s promise is ”tipaton tammikuu”, it means that no alcohol in January. Good start for a good year!

Kuvahaun tulos haulle new year promise

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day celebrating hasn’t been very common in Finland expect for the last few years. But Valentine’s Day has become more commercial day, because Valentine’s Day gifts are bought every year more and more. In Finland, a day is usually celebrated with our friends or partner at the movies or eating. Sending Valentine’s Day cards is also common.

 

 

Kuvahaun tulos haulle valentine's day

 

 

EasterKuvahaun tulos haulle virpojatEaster is a quite big holiday in Finland in spring. Finns are not very religious nation, so celebrating is more for children. Traditional Finn Easter manner is wish another person health and happiness on Palm Sunday by tapping them lightly with a willow twig and chanting a rhyme. It’s usually done by children in quest for candy. A willow twig is decorated with colorful feathers and children are also dressed like witches or Easter bunnies. Traditional Easter food is lamb and Finnish Easter pudding, which is made of rye.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pääsiäisruoka

 

First of MayKuvahaun tulos haulle vappuFirst of May is common westerner holiday and in Finland carnerval for a workpeople and students. Usually celebrating happens in the cities downtown and everyone is wearing their graduation caps. Traditional drinks are mead, sparkling wines and shampagne. Funnel cake is also very own Finnish thing. Families with children are usually celebrating a day in carnivals and circus where balloons is a big thing.Kuvahaun tulos haulle vappu toriKuvahaun tulos haulle tippaleipä

Midsummer

Midsummer means fest of light and midsummer. Then sun doesn’t drop at all in Northern Finland. Midsummer sauna with bath whisk made of birch, bonfire and midsummer dances are very traditional manner in Finland. Almost everybody is celebrating it at their own summerhouse with family or friends. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol is always been part of Finns celebrating. Midsummer fest have also very old magic tricks and belifies. If you roll on grainfield at the morning dew, you can see in your dreams your future husband. It is also believed that drinking alcohol drives out evil spirits, and the harvest will be the better the more you drink.Kuvahaun tulos haulle juhannusHalloween

Celebrating Halloween hasn’t been very common in Finland, expect the last few years. It’s been more like remembering departed people. The most important symbol is grinning pumpkin. Departed people, ghosts, vampires, witches and black cats are also favourite symbols. Children usually wear ghost or other costumes and go door to door asking trick or treat.Kuvahaun tulos haulle karkki vai kepponenIndependent Day

Finland’s Independence Day is very important and big day for all Finns. Finland celebrates it’s 100th anniversary on 2017. Independence is still important to the Finns and touches us because we lost more than 60 000 soldiers, most of them was young men aged 20.Kuvahaun tulos haulle itsenäisyyspäiväTraditional Independence Day program include watching movie ”Tuntematon Sotilas” (”The Unknown Soldier”), that tells of the Finnish war against the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1945.

In the evening, the Presidential Independence Day reception is shown on the TV. There is invited almost 2000 guest in every year. Usually people admire the guests gowns and always vote for the ”Castle Balls” queen and king.Kuvahaun tulos haulle linnan juhlat

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve and Day and Boxing Day

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulu

Christmas is the most biggest holiday in Finland. There is so much tradition manners and foods. On Christmas Eve usually families gather together and eat Christmas food. Christmas table’s king is absolutely ham! Also rosolli salad, rutabaga casserole, potato casserole, carrot casserole and salmon is very common. In the evening Santa Claus from Korvatunturi will visit and share gifts for children. Christmas carols, cards, costumes, get together and visiting in cemetery are traditional manners in Finland.Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulupöytä

 

 

New Years Eve

Kuvahaun tulos haulle fireworks helsinki

New Year’s Eve is a last day in a whole year. A day when Finns celebrate spended year. Shooting fireworks and pouring of tin in to water is traditional manner in Finland. Melted tin sets fast and the shape of tin tells you a lot of what is coming on next year. Maybe it’s a coin which means a lot of money or maybe it’s a heart and you will find a love. No one knows…

Kuvahaun tulos haulle tinan valaminen

 

Diversity of seasons in Finland

In Finland we have a lot of things that make our country special and beautiful. The most precious thing is nature and how nature changes during different seasons.

In summer the days are long, bright and warm far into the night, you can see everywhere trees full of green leafs and lakes with clean water. Long and warm summer days are spend best in a cottage where you can swim, fish and relax in a sauna.

In the autumn nature begins to prepare for the winter. Green leafs on the trees will change their color to red and orange, days are getting darker day by day and the weather starts to be colder and more rainy. After warm and bright summer people are feeling more depressive and starting spend more time inside.

Usually the first snow comes around November and December. After first snow you can call it’s a winter. It doesn’t matter on which part of Finland you are living, there will be a lot of snow. The most breathtaking places will be found from the Lapland. Specially in Lapland at winter time you can see Northern lights, meet Santa Claus and enjoy from beautiful nature.

After the long winter nature begins ”to heal” from the rough conditions. Trees are growing back their leafs, grass and colorful plants are coming back to visible under the melting snow and ice is disappearing from the lakes. On the spring time days are beacoming longer and warmer. Light and warm climate get’s people more happier and lively.

Thoughts about Finland and Finnishness

Finland is place known for its amazing nature. It’s called land of thousand lakes. Many tourists are interest especially in Lapland to see winter wonderland and maybe even northern lights. We also have very clear seasons of the year. In some parts of Finland in summer sun doesn’t set even at nights and in winter sun doesn’t rise even at days.

The Finnish culture is very different compared to other European cultures. For an example in Mediterranean countries people are chatty and talk with their whole body. Finnish people are otherwise kind of their opposite, we’re bad small talkers and want to keep our own personal space as large as possible. People don’t normally talk strangers and people are not comfortable talking foreign language, even though they would know how to speak it.

Below you can see what I meant by people liking their own personal space.

So, Finnish people are quite shy, but they are also very caring and trustworthy. They want to do their best at work, in family and as persons. Maybe that is because of sisu, which kind of means power inside of you that will help you achieve and be determined. Things may be hard, but with sisu, you can do it. Finnish people are known for this and we’re proud of it.

Finns have many local foods. My personal favorites are Karelian pies and Finnish fish pasty. One of the known Finnish candy is Salmiakki, which foreigners normally don’t like (I can’t blame them). In Tampere, we have our own traditional food, Finnish blood sausage. This is also food foreigners don’t like, the name of the food sure takes appetite away.

     

Photos:

 

 

Forest and metal

Finland is the home to many lakes, forests, and most metal bands in the world per capita. It is fair to assume that these are connected as folk melodies and instruments are a very common asset and nature an equally common source of inspiration and lyrical theme in Finnish metal music. I think the phenomenon has its roots in Finns being a very down-to-earth people with a close connection to nature, as only some decades ago most of the population lived in the countryside.

It is a common misconception that Finns are a very depressed people. Statistically they’re not. I think Finns just appreciate their personal space and only speak when they actually have something to say, and this might give the impression of a very reserved people.

When talking about Finnish music, most of it, maybe excluding hip hop which I know nothing about, does sound more depressive than the international hits. That’s why I think metal suits Finland very well. Finland’s black metal scene is also very interesting and deeper underground than that of the more  commercially successful Norwegian cousins.

Moonsorrow playing in Tampere

Some thoughts about Finland

People wait all year for summer and still it lasts only 3 months in Finland. Nature comes alive and and sun never sets. Even though summer is so beloved I still can’t wait early autumn with autumn colours and foggy mornings.  Somehow I’m in love with melancholy weather with a little rain and grey weather. I love snow with a little frost but it’s the darkness I hate. Most of Finns get winter depression or winter fatigue but luckily it’s only seasonal.  I can truly admit that I need more sleep during winters. I think that’s the reason why Finns drink most coffee in the Europe. To stay awake here in darkness which lasts several months!

Summer at countryside

Cold winter
Autumn colours

I think it’s a priviledge to have such a good healthcare here in Finland. We don’t have to pay much to see doctor and we don’t have to pay at all to see the nurse or public health nurse. And because I’m a student, to see a doctor is even  cheaper. If there’s been an accident, nobody asks you if you have the insurance so you can be cured. Doctors and nurses will cure you anyway. We look after each other and we make sure that everybody has a right to have a healtcare.

My education costs me nothing. Not a single euro. Sure we have here private schools which aren’t gratis. You can still study medicine and become a doctor without that you have to pay an arm and a leg. Students can have also student allowance so you can afford to pay a rent. Not bad I would say.