I’moriginallyfrom Estonia sofinnish culture wassomethingnew for me. Estonian culture is mostlyborrowedfromRussia etc.Finland, on theotherhand, has culture mostly of it’sown. WhenItellforeignersabout Finland I beginwithoureducationsystem and ourhealthcare. ThosearethethingsI’mmostproud of as a finnbecauseourhealthcare and educationsystemarebetterthan in mostcountries.
As othershavewritten, nature is important to us. Weareproud of ourforests and lakes. Thebestway to enjoyournature is to spendtime at thecottage in thewoods, near to a lake. That’swheretownspeople and hardworkersrelax. Alsowehavemanynatureparksnear to bigcities and thecitiesitselfhavelots of vegetation.Ournaturechangeswiththeseasons and everyseasonhasit’s beauty. Finlandsspeciality is Lapland, wherethewinter is longest and snowiest. Summers in Laplandaremagical. Thereyoucanexperiencethegreenmountains, thequietdeserts and thenightlessnights. Thenorthernlightsare a mustsee!
Becausenature and climatearesoimportant to us, wecarry a hugeresponsibility for them. Sometimes it canbeoverwhelmingwhenwemakenot-so-goodenvironmentaldecisions. Like whenwebuyplaneticketsto somewherewarm and sunny in themiddle of depressingwinterorwhenwechoosespanishcucumberinstead of finnishbecausethetaste is better. Butwecompensateourbadchoiceswithmanygoodchoices. For example, ourrecyclingsystem is veryadvancedandmostfinnsutilize it. Ourgrocerystorearefull ofgreenerand organicalternatives and finnspreferdomestic products. Alsothepopularity of finnishrecycledcrafts and design is on therise. Notforgettingourcomprehensive and functionalpublictransportation, whichreducesprivatecaruse. Finnishness is love and greatresponsibilitytowardsournature.
Finnishness is a way of life that means equality, freedom, nature and northern oddity.I look my experiences from a pretty average Finnish family living in the suburban areas, in a peaceful society that have given me free education and healthcare. A blueprint that can be easily shared with almost any regular fin, and yet still be able to create your own path freely. This gives a strong feeling of equal rights that we have in Finland.
By having mostly equal backgrounds, there is a plenty of space for openness and freedom to express yourself in our society. However Finnish people tend to look outside little bit introverted, but it just respecting others personal space to make room for everyone to create and express themselves. Throughout my life I have had a freedom to express and explore myself in arts and music, which wouldn’t be always the case if we would have come from different cultural background.
Nature is also one of the key elements to finnishnes, that you can clear see only when you have travelled other countries. Living in the land of a thousand lakes, having purest water and air makes life much easier and safer in million ways. Having the four seasons affects how we behave and what kind seasonal activities we have. Coping with the dark times of the year we have come up with weird rituals such as ice swimming. Dipping in to ice cold water straight from hot sauna, can help you to get through the long winter, but also reminds you how we all are equal in the end of the day. Putting our naked butts next to each other in a crowded sauna without roles and uniforms.
What does Finnishness mean to me? When living abroad the things that were most visible in Finnish culture and the things (amongst many others) that I feel that I’m proud of are the possibility to get a good education for free and the attitude of “sisu” which is roughly explained as determination and perseverance. These things also go a bit hand in hand.
The free education that we have in Finland is really appreciated all over the world. And it is not just free, but it is really good as well. Everyone has an equal opportunity and also a responsibility to go to school and that means that everyone should have equal opportunities to succeed in life as well. And it is not just the basic education that is free, but our Universities also offer free education. You do have to qualify for your studies though, so it is not just an easy get away and a little work never hurt nobody. Our government also supports your studies with a monthly student allowance which gives the student an opportunity to finish its studies debt free and ready to face the world.
Sisu is something that I really value in the Finnish style of doing things. We learn from our mistakes and move on after we fell. The Japanese saying fall down seven times and stand up eight really defines the mind of a Finnish. If we decide to do something, we really make it happen. We are not quitters. And I believe that is valued in work life around the world as well. We are known to do our jobs well and not be slackers. That is something that I really appreciate in our reputation.
For me, Finnishness means lots of different things. The first thing that came to my mind is nature. I feel like most Finnish people have a close connection with it. There’s always nature nearby and you don’t have to walk far to find a forest. I love how easy it is to find a place where there’s no one else and you can just be alone and enjoy the silence and calmness. It’s the perfect place to collect your thoughts together if you feel stressed about something. Us Finns really appreciate the quietness and our own personal space.
I also love the contrasts in Finland such as the cold, long, dark winters and the warm, short, light-filled summers. Also, the change of seasons looks so beautiful in nature, especially in the autumn.
Even though the Finnish summer is short, there’s even more to do for example visiting the local markets, music festivals and amusement parks. The local markets in Finland offer lots of traditional Finnish foods and you should definitely go to one if you are visiting Finland. Finns love fish and I would recommend trying the traditional Finnish salmon soup or fried vendace. Afterwards, you should have a cinnamon bun with a cup of coffee. Did you know that Finnish people consume the most coffee in the world? Well, now you know!
My absolute favourite thing during the summer is to have a swim in the lake and go to a sauna after that. Sauna, swim, repeat! There’s nothing more Finnish than a sauna. In winter cross-country skiing is a must and would recommend that to anyone who’s visiting Finland during the winter. Nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate after your skiing session.
And you can’t forget mushroom hunting and berry picking. There are so many great things that nature offers us here!
I was raised in a small Finnish town in Satakunta. A town of 7000 people where every young person knows each other. We had quite nice time living there. Our school was quite small but everyone in there had big dreams. Nowadays I live in a bigger city of Tampere. Some people around me share the same background as me. Most of my classmates are from different cities and different families and have all their own stories. Still all of us have the same opportunity of achieving something in life.
The fact that education is available for everyone and for free is something I am very proud of as a Finnish person. You don’t need to have rich parents or work night shifts on the side to go to a good university. Everything is possible if you work for what you want.
I liked living in a small rural town. I could go swimming in a river in our backyard. Even if you managed to swallow some of the water while swimming you wouldn’t get sick. Being surrounded by fields and forests make it a beautiful place.
In the summer all the small towns come back to life. Having months of not so good weather really makes the summer feel so much better when it finally arrives. In my hometown Kokemäki there are several different events held in the summertime. My favorite is the annual VastavirtaRock festival. It is a free music festival for all to see. The festival is funded fully by donations and there have been some great indie performers in the past years. Another good event is the Riverside Kustom day – a classic car and motorcycle meet held by a local motorist group. People around the region gather to see cool cars and rock bands play. Those kind of events are definately the best time to live in Finland.
Alright. Define ”finnishness” my guy. Simple, right?
Well yes, but actually no.
Finnishness is an odd phenomenon. It’s being super proud of our country whenever it gets mentioned anywhere in any context, but at the same time shying away from any praise, being all modestly self-deprecating. It’s a weird thing, and I’ll try my best with these four points to show you how:
1) The F is up with saunas?
Did you really think we were going to go through this without mentioning saunas? Ohohoho, no sir-ee! It’s right into the stereotypical deep-end with this one!
First off, for the record, I love me my saunas. I love the fact that they exist. They are a massive point of collective cultural pride deep within our DNA. It’s the place where throughout the times people have been born and died in, it’s where some of our most important and famed political discussions have been held, and most commonly it’s the place where you go wash away the worries of your everyday life and relax – if even for the most fleeting of moments.
So why is it so natural for us?
I mean really, you go to a bus stop and people are standing meters apart from each other. At a public urinal you only ”go domino” (the act of using the urinal in between two vacant urinals) if you absolutely have to – and even then it’s up for discussion.
I don’t like you too near me, and you don’t like me too near you, got it?
Unless it’s in a steaming-hot room and we’re naked. Then it’s fine. Then it’s super ok. Then it’s actually super okay to the point of it being weird IF you have, say, a towel on to hide your body parts you were just so conscious of at the urinal. I mean bruh.
And riddle me this: If I gather around a bunch of friends, we undress, grab a couple of beers and sit around at very close proximity of each other in a room, it’s considered weird, right?
What if we start to slowly raise the temperature? When does it become socially acceptable?
Or is the idea of a sauna more in the wooden planks you rest those gorgeous cheeks of yours on? Where does it begin and end? (I’m serious, this shit has kept me up during nights)
So saunas are a thing – for whatever the reason. I guess that is something you would call ”finnishness” on some level.
2) Fokken buckets
I love this one man. Just the fact that we queue (hate that word, btw: is it just a Q followed by four silent letters?) for ages for a free bucket. I don’t know why, but I love it. Aren’t we cool!? Yeah we are! Not much else here to stay – I’m a Finn, born and raised, and I don’t understand it. But then again I kinda do. You go get yourself a bucket Marjut! Yeah! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
In the picture, you’ll find the author. And a free bucket he raffled. They are a thing!
3) The aforementioned pride of being Finnish.
Okay my guys, we are a humble bunch. You know it, I know it, your granny knows it, hell, your neighbours are probably aware of it as well. If you are a non-finn reading this, you’ve probably noticed this as well and if you haven’t, try it out: Go give a compliment to a Finn and watch them squirm.. We don’t like to take credit too much, and often brush praise off the shoulders with a ”Ahhhhh, it’s really nothing, it’s just yada yada yada..”
But man oh man if we don’t go nuts whenever Finland gets mentioned anywhere. Our schooling system and the results of those are on the top? YES! Bernie Sanders lists off the Nordic countries as an example of a working socialist democracy and says Finland? ALRIGHT! One Finnish person or a company is succesful abroad at basically anything? THAT IS OUR BOI! Right?
And don’t get me started on sports: Ice hockey, Teemu Pukki, or Lauri Markkanen? God damn! Even a person who has never done sports in their lives can’t help but feel some sort of weird, indescribable pride when you see a ”-nen” suffixed surname anywhere in the news from a foreign news outlet. We love it. And we should too! We are a small country with a population of an M&M’s bag, we have never in history been a superpower like our neighbouring countries, so when we ever get any appreciation or acknowledgement from anything, we take the praise with a smile. Maybe because it is not directly linked to us as individuals, thus effectively not making us squirm? Who knows, could be.
I mean, there’s that joke of a conspiracy theory going around the internet that Finland is not even a real country but a paper country, so it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside when we are acknowleged.
And then the most important point, which in my opinion really reflects the Finnishness of the Finns:
Erhm, ladies and gentlemen,
Look, we don’t talk too much. We look weirdly at people who are too open too quick, and roll our eyes if somebody just wont stop talking. We say what we have to say and then not too much else.
You can always trust a Finn to give their honest opinion when asked (emphasis on when asked – other than that, we probably won’t even voice our opinion). It’s going to be rough around the edges, but man if it isn’t going to be honest.
A Finn sees a person drop a 50€ note on the ground and they pick it up and give it to the person who dropped it, probably with as few words as possible, maybe even with a tap on the shoulder accompanied with a nod. We would have the opportunities to go ”well, tough shit” and pocket it for ourselves, but we hardly ever do. This has actually been proven as well in a research where 12 wallets were ”dropped” on the ground in different major cities across the globe with return details to see where the most honest people are? Guess what? In Helsinki, 11 out of 12 were returned! With money inside! Imagine that! (Read more here.
We don’t beat around the bush in the good nor the bad, and I think this is something we should truly embrace. It’s so engraved in us that most people aren’t probably aware of it. Be it from nature or nurture – who cares? We don’t even run a red light even if there is nobody else on the road. We are an honest and humble people. Let’s hope we dont’t lose that.
And with that note, I will down my way-too-expensive beer in HEL, and move on to my gate. I’m gonna make a quick stop in Arlanda and then move on to Amsterdam from where I’ll grab a train towards Rotterdam and probably (hopefully) the best six months I’ll see in a long time. Wish me luck!
Stay humble my peeps. Stay honest. And take a compliment next time one is given to you! Oh, and just as a parting gift, here’s a picture of President Niinistö firing an SMG whilst riding a velociraptor. You’re very welcome.
If you want to get the best expierence of Finnishness, you should visit for example the nature of Finland in Lapland. I find the nature of Lapland very beautiful during winter but also during summer. You have to go skiing and downhill skiing if you are visiting Lapland.
You can get very beautiful pictures of the nature of Finland, but the nature can be pretty harsh sometimes. Especially in Lapland winter can be long, cold and dark. Everyone may be exhausted during winter beacause you don’t get to see and feel the sun often enough. As a result, the arrival of spring and summer always feels so comforting and pleasant. In summer, the Finns truly come out of their caves after the long and cold winter. Many Finns always have big plans for the summer because many Finns have their longest vacation during summer. Majority of Finns for example visit music festivals, attend different open air dancing events and go to their own summer cottage to rest. In addition, we celebrate Midsummer Day, which takes place in the middle of the summer. Traditionally we spend the day with out friends and family at a cottage and enjoy the nature of Finland in the middle of trees and lakes.
Nevertheless, it is also true that the Finns like to have their own personal space. We need to have our own space and our surroundings under control. You can witness this while waiting the bus or being in crowded place in public. If you sit next to someone you don’t know and there are free seats available on the bus, Some Finns may find that distressing or strange. Also, you are supposed to stand approximately one meter away from that person you don’t know, for example while waiting the bus. The Finns may seem angry and severe at first, but we are just shy at first. When you get to know someone, for example in school or work, we Finns are whole different persons after a couple of conversations. After breaking that shy ice, we Finns are social, kind and friendly.
All in all, Finland is very safe and wonderful place to live even though the darkness during winter may feel depressing sometimes, but you can always warm yourself in a sauna. The Finnish people may behave their own way at first, but just be patient and give it time. Over time the Finns are really talkative and energetic. You just have to get to know them at first.
Grasping the meaning of the word “Finnishness” seems very easy, but also remarkably hard to point out. First things that come to mind are saunas, northern lights, cold people, ice hockey, snow, and an incredibly complicated language. But Finnishness is way more than that.
Sure thing, Finns do love their sauna, and for the longest time I didn’t like the experience. Growing up in a country where most of the year is over +30 degrees, I never really saw the point in sitting in a wooden room in high temperatures. Recently though, it’s been growing on me.
Finnishness also has a lot to do with nature. There’s nature literally everywhere in this country, and I love being surrounded by the peaceful wilderness that is so easily accessible, which makes it such a crucial part of Finnish culture. Berry and mushroom picking, hiking, orientation inside forests, summers spent swimming and fishing in lakes. Even during the cold months, Finns find a way to still be close to nature by practicing a lot of outdoor sports.
You can’t talk about Finnish culture without mentioning the unique way Finns mind their own business. It took me some time to notice how this mindset applies to almost everything, but Finnish people tend to go out of their way to not bother others. This applies to almost everything: quiet restaurants, personal space, filling up all the window seats on the bus and avoiding any seat beside someone else, and queueing for everything, amongst many other daily situations. And I’ve really come to appreciate this particular part of Finnishness.
I first moved to Finland back in 2012 for a 9th grade one year long exchange, and thought I was ready for Finnish culture, given that my grandmother who was 100% Finnish had a huge part in raising me. But it turns out I wasn’t quite ready for what was to come, and being a foreigner with Finnish roots didn’t prepare me from the differences between Latin America and Northern European cultures.
My first experience with the Finnish culture was in 2011 when I did one year exchange in Finland, during high school. After some years back in Brazil, I decided to go back to Finland to do my bachelor’s degree. And the reason for that was my love for Finland.
For me, Finnishness means nature and quality of life. I love being around nature and in Finland you can get it anywhere you want, it doesn’t matter if you live in the city. I like to walk around the trees, hiking or having a picnic with my friends.
Another thing I like in the Finnish nature is the white winter. I love snow. I saw it for the first time in Finland and only there in the proper way, the real beautiful snow. I love how the city gets brighter (since there isn’t a proper sun) and I love to play with the snow, I feel just like a kid.
Of course I couldn’t forget one of the most Finnishness thing, sauna. Finnish sauna is the best one. And even better than being in the sauna, is how you feel after it. Going to sauna and bathing in a lake, specially if it is a frozen one, it’s an experience everyone should have in their lives.
To conclude, I would like to say that Finland is one of the best places in the world. I’ve never felt as safe in a country as I have in Finland. I love how everything works, how it has the best education, and how Finns enjoy their nature.
I findthenature of Finland indescribably beautiful and diverse. Probablythebestpart is that it is always easilyaccessible, evenifyou live in a city.
However, in Finland nature is notonly as pretty as a picture, but it canalsobequiteharsh. Winter is long, cold and dark – it is truly the season when everyone feels exhausted. Butmaybe just because of thatthe arrival of spring and summer alwaysfeelssopleasant. In summer, theFinnstrulysnap out of the lethargy, as major music festivalslurepeople out to havefun and enjoy life. Wealso celebrateMidsummer Day, whichtakesplace in themiddle of summer as itsnamesuggests. Traditionally wespendthedaywithourfriends at a cottage, amidstnature and stayupuntilthefollowing morning.
Nevertheless, it is also true that we Finns like our solitude. Weneedourownspace. Youcanwitnessthis whilewaitingthebus and even on it. On thebusyouarenotsupposed to sitnext to someoneyoudon’t know, ifthereareotherfreeplacesavailable. Whilewaitingthebus, youaresupposed to stand approximatelyonemeterawayfromtheother person. Behaviorotherthanabove is perceived as strange and maybeevendistressing.
All in all, Finland is a safe and wonderfulplace to live, even though the darkness during winter may feel live, insufferable at first and peoplebehave in a peculiar way at the bus stop.