This blog post comes a bit late. I should have written it before my exchange but I had some problems with the website.
I am doing a exchange training at Holbæk hospital, Denmark. The exchange takes in total 2 months which I am going to spend in Holbæk. My goal is to learn to speak Danish and brush up my Swedish and English skills.
The topic for today is Finnishness. To be honest I am not that thrilled to write about this because it feels like I should bring up awkward stereotypes like example Finns being shy heavy metal-lovers that only come talk to you when being drunk etc. Who the hell are these people? Not me nor my Finnish friends at least.
Now when I am already in Denmark I think it is more interesting to talk about differences and similarities I have come across these past days. Danish culture is pretty much based on hyggeism and design. One cannot simple find a ugly coffeeshop around here. “Hygge” is danish way of thinking, living and especially coping during the winter. Roughly it translates to cozyness. They say that Danes are the most happiest people on the planet. The gallops also show that the Danes use more alcohol compared to other Scandinavian countries.
Danish people usually mention metal music, freezing cold weather, ice hockey (and they usually remember to mention Finland’s shameful scoring in football) and saunas. Some locals can count to tree with a cute danish accent, they never forget to mention some Finnish swore words and usually end the whole sentence cheering “Kippis”, the Finnish cheering when drinking.
Finns are seen as a modern day vikings who can deal the cold weather sweating and bleeding on a ice hockey rink when heavy metal echos in a background. I think that both of the cultures have their own way to prepare themselves when the winter hits hard on the face. Danes temp to “hygge” inside their minimalist design houses taking pictures of their cocoa cups behind their snugly blankets. Finns, on the other hand, have a total different point of view: “kalsarikänni”. Helsingin sanomat, Finnish newspaper wrote an article about the topic: Forget hygge! Here comes kalsarikänni! It is a Finnish way of living, where netflix and kalsarikänni = drinking beer with your underwear at your home with no intention to going out. The word is not translated in any other language, only Finns have invented a meaning for it. These days kalsarikänni is going viral in social media.
Maybe there is a small piece of cultural truth behind kalsarikänni. It is a honest way of living when one does not have a interest of being a snob. In a weird way there is still a hint of “sisu” behind it, another Finnish word that has no perfect translation. “Sisu” is determination regardless of the cost and persistence that is still living strong in Finnish culture heritage. Probably it was part of a Finnish war propaganda at first. These days “sisu” is still known globally.
In the end does it really matter do you hygge or kalsarikänni? The main key is to embrace differences equally.