Finland is often referred to as one of the Scandinavian countries but whether it actually is is a debatable matter. According to Wikipedia Scandinavia is an area with similar or mutual language, cultural history and location, and therefore it consists of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and in some contexts also Iceland and even Faroe Islands. The concept of Scandinavian countries is however vague and nowadays the name is often used as a synonym for the Nordic Countries. But what differentiates us from our neighbors and makes us Finns?
If you listen to a Finnish person speaking his/her native language and compare it to a Swede the difference here is pretty obvious. Where Swedes and Norwegians can understand each other without a problem no one can understand Finnish, even us Finns find it sometimes difficult to understand some dialects (Rauma I am talking about you). The formal, standard Finnish doesn’t have much to do with the spoken language which can make the language learning process frustrating for a foreigner. I guess we can all agree that the language is rather useless on a global perspective, but we are proud of it nevertheless.
Once you get over the language barrier other aspects of the culture arise. Finns are genetically distinct from other Europeans (Gates, 43, 2014) which is a fact (though a debatable one…) we like because we don’t like to get mixed up with other Nordic countries (particularly Sweden) and have a strong sense of national identity, probably because Finland has been under either Russia’s or Sweden’s rule for centuries.
Where Swedes are jolly people who have a gay old time on the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia, Finnish people are, generally speaking, somewhat introverted, insecure and melancholic. On the eyes of a Finn Swedes always seem to be luckier than Finns, however we would never switch places with them.
But there is more to Finnish people than you first might think; we are also perseverant, honest (one of the most important values in Finland) and trustworthy. Finnish people don’t want to make a big deal out of themselves and enjoy a big personal space but once you get to know us you will probably find more layers and be surprised by the fact that we actually can hold a conversation and show emotions when appropriate. Our friendships have to be earned which in my opinion makes it more valuable and Finnish people are very loyal to their family and friends.
I’ll end this post with a link to a classic video which shows how we perceive our most beloved neighbors:
Reference: Gates, E. N. 1997. The Concept of Race in Natural and Social Science. Routledge; Reprint edition