All posts by Risto Piirainen

My experiences of Finnishness

Nature

It is just impossible to talk about Finland and Finnishness without mentioning it’s nature. The cliché of Finland of being a land of thousand lakes is not only true, it underestimates the nature of Finnish nature. But as well as man can call Finland a land of thousand lakes Finland could be called a land of thousand swamps. Finland’s Finnish name Suomi can actually have it’s origins in the word suo ”swamp”. As well as there are lots of different words for different kind of snow, there are also lots of Finnish words for different kind of swamps also. And then there is of course also forests. Lots of forests. You could say that forest is the place where Finnish people are at home or at least it is a place where Finnish person must go from time to time to feel healthy and well.

Balancing

Finland has a relatively short history as a country or even as an nationality. Finland was inhabited by few different tribes after ice season. There was no idea of Finnishness for a long time. People understood each other but for example written Finnish had lots of differences in 16th century depending the person who was writing. Finland was being ruled by Swedes for centuries and then by Russians from 1809. The idea of Finnland as a nation started to rise in the end of 19th century and Finland gain it’s independence partly by kind of an accident in the stormy season of Russian revolution. Soviet Union tried to occupy Finland in 1939 in Winterwar, but for a surprise for all the world didn’t manage to conquer small and poor country. Finnish people are very proud of this part of their nation’s history. Later being a small country beside a huge Soviet Union was a struggle for Finland who wanted to attach to west but needed to also retain good relations with it’s eastern neighbor. Finland needed to balance between east and west. I think this shows still nowadays as a some kind of carefulness.

Music

As a music student I can not leave unmentioned something about Finnish music.

If you ask from average Finnish person how he would describe Finnish music I am quite sure that first thing he would answer would be that Finnish music is melancholic. That is at least partly true that there are lots of music in different genres that are composed to minor key and it gives to a song or a piece a melancholic feeling. This is typical especially in old Finnish folk music. But it seems that Finnish people like to listen minor key songs also nowadays.

It has been said that in Finland there are most of metal bands per capita in the world. I believe that it is true or at least we are head to head with Norway. Maybe that tells something about us surviving dark and cold winter. You just can’t compose samba or reggae in that kind of conditions.

One of the greatest song composers of Finland is Toivo Kuula. He was born in 1883 and died only as 35 years old in the after match of Finnish civil war in 1918. In this video is performed one of his songs.