Monthly Archives: January 2018

Winter sport in Finland

 

Ski

Finns are a winter sports people. Cross-country skiing is very popular. Ski trails to be found in Finland all over the country. This opportunity is excellent for a townie, as they can only pack the skis and rods to the car’s trunk, jump on the driveway and drive to the nearest landing location. They are easily found, for example, by the services provided by local authorities.
Ski trails are traditionally the knife blades that practice summertime running. The length of the loops varies, so the beginner and the more experienced knuckler can be found to be a suitable alternative. The municipalities run routes on the lorries, so the conditions are okay with a very fast timetable right after the snow comes down. Many enjoy the most from skiing in a tranquil environment where you can go in peace without someone receiving or interfering with skiing. Good places for such a situation can be found in rural areas or elsewhere in the sparsely populated area.

Ice hockey

Ice hockey is very popular sports type. Ice hockey and its follow-up is a multi-Finnish winter hobby. The favorite team is closely watched. As the Finnish national team plays, the restrained Finns will be excited, especially if their success comes.

Downhill skiing

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are also very popular in Finland. In Lapland is many ski resorts. Southern Finland is also ski slopes, but they are shorter than in Lapland.

Skate

Nowadays, when there is not so much snow in the southern Finland in winter, skating has become more common. You can skate on the track or go farther to the lake to skate. Its very fun and fast.

Thoughts on Finland

What first come to my mind when someone asks me about Finland? Without a doubt I would say grayness, slush, slippery roads, rainy summers, people who look like they are always coming from someone’s funeral, ice hockey that doesn’t interest me at all…But when I’m starting to think about our country and culture more closely, it’s not that bad at all.

My favorite thing in Finland is absolutely the nature. Even I’ m not a winter lover, I can’t help admiring the shimmering snow and the “blue moments” in the winter evening. My own favorite season is absolutely the spring, when the sun is shining warmly, snow is smelting and the green color takes its own place back again.  I love those green fields and forests in the summer and the beautiful blue lakes of course. Even the rain is not only negative thing: it’s kind of nice to sit in the summer cottage reading a good book and listen the rain dropping to the ceiling. And the fresh smell after rain, oh dear!

The nature means a lot to me, but most of all I appreciate that every morning I can wake up feeling myself safe. Don’t have to worry about war, violence, political conflicts or natural disasters. I can spend days doing what I want and study the occupation of my dreams for free (except for taxes of course). I also know that I have good health care if I get injured or sick. And thanks for the equality we all have the same rights despite of gender, religion or property. So maybe next time when I’m starting to whine about the cold weather or some other pointless things I remember those good facts of our country instead.

The long dark winters and nightless nights of the summer.

When talking about Finland with foreign people I got asked a lot about Finnish winter and summer. How the winter is so dark and could and at the midsummer the sun stays up all night.

The winters in Finland are could and you never seem to see a sunlight. During October the days in Finland start getting shorter and shorter. From November to January the days are very short and dark. You go to school in the darkness and return home in the darkness, you may be lucky when you look out of the class window and see some light.

 

But even though the could and darkness may sound depressing, you can still enjoy the winter. The ground is covered in snow with a beautiful ice surface. In the winter you have multiple possibilities to play winter sports. Seeing men and women, young and old playing Ice hockey, skating and skiing it`s a wonderful side of Finnish winter. Not to forget the Lapland and the magical northern lights.

When you smell someone grilling you know the Finnish summer has started. The days are getting longer and the best part of the Finnish summer is getting closer, the midsummer. The midsummer is at the end of June and it’s the favorite holiday for many. Finns usually spends this holiday by going to cottage with family or friends. Enjoying the beautiful nature of Finland away from the city, Swimming at the lakes, grilling and going to sauna is the best way of relaxing.

Lapland

Lapland is the largest and northernmost region in Finland. The beautiful mountains of Lapland, space, easy-going people, relaxed atmosphere and many other things makes Lapland kind of a magical place. For me Lapland is all these things, but most important a place where I can listen to the holy silence on top of the Levitunturi, and look at the spacious view. There`s no time, no rush, no one bothering. Just me and a breathtaking scenery.

Me and my family on top of the Levi-mountain (Levitunturi) in Levi, Lapland.

Instead of normal summer, autumn, winter and spring, there are 8 seasonal period in Lapland:  frosty winter, crusty snow, departure of ice, midnight sun, harvest season, colorful autumn, first snow and Christmas. In Lapland summer is summer and winter is a real cold and snowy winter. Snow comes to Lapland during September-November. Christmastime is the darkest time of Lapland`s seasons  when the sun doesn`t rise above the horizon and there are only few hours of sunlight. The winter is long, approximately seven months. During the winter Lapland gets snow from 50 cm to over a meter. Statistically the coldest month of the year is February, when it could be more than -35°C frost. In the beginning of March the sunshine starts appearing in the northern skies again after a long period of kaamos = polar night. The best things about the winter periods in Lapland are clean white and fresh powder snowy landscapes and the luminous northern lights dancing through the skies.

Northern lights appear on more than 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland. Sometimes reindeer may walk on the roads wild and free and don`t really care about traffic, cars have to wait for them to move from the road.

When the spring comes, snow cover starts to melt fast and nature awakens to it`s splendour. The thickest snow cover ever was measured in Kilpisjärvi in 19 April 1997 and it was 190 cm. There could still be some snow in early June, but by Midsummer the sun should provide some nice warmth. Summer  in Lapland is bright, actually so bright that if you go all the way to Utsjoki, the sun stays above the horizon from mid-May to mid-July. Hot days (over 25°C) are few in Lapland as the warmest times of the summer are July and its last weeks.

Santa Claus lives in the North Pole, Rovaniemi, in the capital of Lapland.
Lappish spring.
Reindeer on tunturi during nightless night.

Autumn is colourful time. Ruska arrives in southern Lapland around a week later than in northern Lapland, usually after the first week of September. During the autumn days are slowly getting shorter again and the temperature gets below zero. Ruska prepares as well the nature as the people for wintertime. Autumn is a perfect time to come to Lapland and breathe the fresh north air, pick berries and mushrooms, enjoy the beautiful nature and do some trekking before the coming of snow.

Pitkospuut (causeway) in the middle of beautiful Ruska.

 

There are plenty activities you can do, places to go and sights to see. The places I have visited in Lapland are Levi, Kittilä, Kuusamo, Ruka, Rovaniemi, Ivalo, Saariselkä and Utsjoki. For me none of these are better than another. Once you cross the Lapland border, you can feel the Lappish spirit and atmosphere. The rush and hurry are not welcome to Lapland. The northern you go the more you start seeing the pure nature, mountains, reindeer on roads and beautiful wilderness of Lapland.

The map of Finnish Lapland. The capital of Lapland is Rovaniemi, where the Arctic Circle crosses Lapland.

I wish it was Finnish summer already!

It might often seem to foreign people that Finns are a bit cold and quiet people. I am not at all surprised, since we hardly ever speak to people we don’t know, especially to foreigners. It is very common to us to travel in public transportations and not say a word to one another but that is just the way we are; we like our own space. I don’t think it is because we are cold, it is just that we are a bit shy and might often have preconceptions, especially for people from other countries.

I think it would be very helpful for us Finns to get out of this country to travel. Once we open our eyes to other cultures, we can learn and enrich our way of seeing things. Then we might understand why we can seem a bit odd folk to some foreigners.

In my opinion we are ultimately a friendly and kind nation, if you only give us time to get to know us.

Nevertheless, I love my home country. It is in my mind a safe haven. In Finland we recently celebrated our 100th anniversary of Independence. I am thankful and proud to say that I am a Finn. We have a beautiful nature with all four different seasons. My favourite season is the Finnish summer, which is always too short in my opinion. People are the most energetic and generally just happy in the summer time. Summer is the time when people spend the most time outside, enjoying the long days with lots light and warm weather. There are a lot of things to do for people in the summer. You can enjoy different events through the summer all over the country, for example different music festivals.

 

Summer and Sauna

In the summer we Finns spend a lot of time at Summer cottages. We spend all day outside enjoying the sunlight; go to the lake fishing, do gardening, grill food, warm up the sauna and sometimes also “palju” if you happen to have one in your summer cottage. The Finnish sauna has a sauna stove that warms up with wood and fire. “Palju” in other hand usually looks like a big barrel that is filled with water that you also warm up with fire and wood. It is really kind of like a hot tub but outside, which is really nice since you get to enjoy the beautiful summer nights sitting in the tub.

Picture 1. Midsummer Eve’s night.

 

Midsummer

Every summer we Finns celebrate Midsummer at the end of June. Midsummer is one of the main national holidays in Finland. In midsummer Eve we celebrate the “nightless night” that basically means that the sun is up almost through the whole day and night. In the northern Finland the sun doesn’t go down at all. Midsummer is typically spent with family and friends at a summer cottage away from the cities. Midsummer traditions consist of lighting bonfires by the lake, going to sauna, barbecuing and playing different games outside. If you happen to stay in the city in Midsummer, it might feel as if the cities have been abandoned since almost everybody leaves their homes to go to the cottages.

Midsummer is usually seen as the beginning of warm summer weather and many Finns start their summer holidays on Midsummer Eve.

Picture 2. Midsummer Eve’s bonfire

Finnishness to me means mostly peace and the feeling of being safe. The Finnish nature is unbelievably beautiful and unique. It keeps on surprising you every time.

I wish it was summer already!

 

A Finnish mindset

SISU

Having sisu means that someone is unyielding and determined. He/she has endurance and resilience. That’s what the Finns are known for and very proud of. Sisu can be connected with sports. Especially cross-country skiing and ski jump where Finns have succeeded.

PERSONAL SPACE

Finnish people need their own personal space. It’s not okay to go and hug or kiss a stranger or even an acquaintance. I guess almost everyone is familiar with a picture from a Finnish bus stop where people are standing a meter from each other just because they need their own space. They might do that even if it’s raining and everyone won’t fit under the shelter. Or perhaps it’s just a bit exaggerated.

SILENCE

Finnish people don’t mind being silent. Sometimes it’s even desirable. When you’re driving a car in a bright summer night and listening good songs. Or when you’re enjoying the heat of the sauna. You seldom hear strangers talking to each other in an elevator or in a bus. First foreigners might find this behavior strange and disturbing but during time they might start to enjoy it. Enjoy those lovely moments that doesn’t need to filled with small talk.

 

Pictures: http://finnishnightmares.blogspot.fi/

Finnish is simple, the culture not the language

For foreign people it could seem like very difficult to get into the finnish culture and to talk with a group of people. That is more likely true but happens that is the over analysizing the characteristics of the culture, and ironically that’s actually very finnish! In the sense that if one starts to think too much what might finnish people think of them or where goes the line of their comfort zones, that’s quite impossible to figure out. I admite that finnish are very misterious and quiet people, but the need to be pushed towards a little bit, in the sense that just to hang out with them is allright and no questions asked – you don’t always have to be the person whos talking or ask many questions, that might make them anxious, no the silence or “just to be”.

I’ve been strongly noticing when foreign people who try to know finnish people are making it kind of too difficult for themselves. For many culture talking, asking, telling about oneself or own culture is normal, but a finnish maybe doesnt show him intrest for any of those things. That isn’t usually a degrading thing, but more like a finnish isn’t interested about talking those kind of things, because usually he’s not very keen about talking about himself neither. So small talk or a basic things that kind of are related to a moment are usually discussed in my opinion. When we are more drunk, then we will open up and are also more willing to hear more about you. You will get the idea fast 😀

Imagen relacionada

It’s good to remember that finnish doesn’t like a “show ups” or a person who is constantly leading the conversation with loud voice, no matter does the conversation focus on himself or the others. When drinking, the good starters are offering a friend a shot or some other not-beer and ask their opinion etc. Rarely they decline when you offer them something and even if they answer you just “good”, but if those are by the far the words words from him to you it means that his going to talk with you later.  And one important thing, if you get to know someone when he’s drunk and he doesn’t greet you after some time, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t remember you or doesn’t want to! Just courageously go to talk them even they dont pay an antention to you, they get used to you, I know that sounds bad and tough work 😛 and yes it’s, even for finnish ourselves, but after that it’s worth it and finnish people are usually very loyal and in many cases too friendly as a friend

Finnish nature

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Finland is the beautiful nature we have. In Finland we have all four seasons summer, autumn, winter and spring. Summers aren’t that warm here in Finland. During the summer Finns visit their summer cottages, barbeques and enjoy life. In Finland we have so called “yötön yö” which means that sun doesn’t set at all.

Autumn is very beautiful in Finland. Trees turn to red and yellow. It is time to go mushrooming and picking up apples. Autumn is also perfect time to go hikinng.

In Finland we get lots of snow during the winter (at least in the north). Winter is cold and dark. In wintertime we have so called “kaamos” which means that sun doesn’t rise at all. It is the opposite to the “yötön yö” that we have in the summer. We have a lot of winter activities such as skiing, ice-hockey, snowboarding and etc. One very Finnish thing to do in the winter is to go swimming into the frozen lake/river. Finns drill hole into the ice and dips in. It is common to go to sauna to warm up afterwards.

When the spring comes people are very happy, because cold and dark winter is behind us and the summer is coming!

Mökkeily: The Finnish cottage culture

For Finns it’s normal that almost every family owns a cottage on a lake. The cabin can be ether modern with all the luxuries or extremely primitive with no electricity or running water. Or something between those. What combines all these cottages is that they are all places for relaxation and peace of mind.

The relaxation can mean many things. In summer it is things like swimming, playing games, walking in forest, rowing, barbecue or fishing but also yard working such as chopping wood, raking leaves, cleaning, doing maintenance work. In winter the favorites are skiing, skating, toboccan sliding, snowscootering, but also plowing snow. Everyone from children to old people spend time outside regardless of the temperature that can sometimes be as low as -25 °C and even lower in northern Finland.

Oh, and it’s not a cabin at all if there is no sauna. Period. Sauna is often used every evening while staying at the cottage. Finns usually go to sauna naked with close friends or family, although in most cases grown-ups take turns by gender. It is usually a sign of true friendship that you share a sauna together, where you can’t have anything to hide or any things with you that would make you somehow unequal with the other person that shares the space. Especially in summer if the löyly* is starting to feel too hot, we run and jump naked to the lake. Some people like to swim at winter too and a hole is drilled to the ice for it.

A modern cottage in Hauho with all the unnecessary luxuries like electricity and running water.

* Löyly does not only mean the water that is yet to be thrown to the sauna stove, but also the air temperature, moisture, intensity, spirit and even the whole character of the sauna experience. When a sauna is excellent, you can say something like “you get a good löyly there”.