Finnishness describes the culture and identity of Finns. It can mean a lot of things but there are a few that stand out to me. Here are a few points on these matters and what I think of them.
Honesty is a practice that I feel Finnish people master. Either way looking at it from a positive or a negative perspective. It can be seen in different aspects of a Finn’s everyday life and attitude. For example, if they have an appointment, they are on time. You can depend 100 % on what they say is honest. Also, they get straight to the point when talking and that’s why they don’t have the skill of small talk.
On the other hand, the prospect of freedom is seen in few examples. When considering rights and laws for instance Finnish have the “every man’s right” which means we are allowed to roam freely in the forests. Then looking at it from a social perspective, in Finland you are free to be whatever you desire. No need to fit in a hierarchy system. Also, the social security helps with everyone being able to achieve their freedom by themselves and not being held down by their past or history.
Lastly the classic word connected to Finnishness, Sisu. It translates to e.g. resilience, bravery, and grit. It is something we have seen throughout history, say in wars and athletics, but also just in everyday life. You can also say it’s how Finns fight through the dark and cold winters including the polar nights.
Finland. Finnishness. Finn-ishness? A Finn can freely describe themselves as hard work-ish, talkative-ish, sport-ish. However, we have a great tendency not to put ourselves fully out there. We find it uncomfortable to label ourselves into something too specific, especially if that something could, in any way, be understood as something admirable. No Finn has ever said that they are good at something, maybe good-ish but definitely not good or great. We don’t like to put ourselves to a pedestal. You can just picture a Finn responding to a reporter after winning the Olympic gold medal saying “well that went pretty well”, or as the Finnish F1 driver Kimi Räikkönen well put before a race “I’d rather be probably out of second and third place so I don’t have to go to the prize-giving”.
Finnish people sometimes feel inadequate in front of the big world stage. We’re always interested in what other people think of us. Our culture’s DNA has a certain kind of self-regulation encoded into it making it difficult for us to shine as the main star. We are great workers, reliable people and over all else, we achieve as much, if not more, than all the big players in the world. A great amount of inventions and cultural aspects affecting the whole world have originated in Finland. There are even many fields where we continuously hover around the number one spot in the whole world: education, healthcare, technology… We Finnish people deliver it all. For a nation as small as Finland that’s an astonishing feat.
We might be hesitant over labeling ourselves most of the time. However, there has always been one thing which “-ishness” we aren’t ashamed of and will proudly declare ourselves as such. We are, and will always be, proud Finnish people, no doubt about it. We are proud of our country, we are proud of handling the coldness of the north, we are proud of being a tiny nation. That is something no one will ever be able to take away from the Finnish people.