Tag Archives: Finland

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. That is how Andy Williams describes Christmas in his song released in 1963.

Finland is located in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter is the longest season in Lapland. It begins in the end of october and ends in May. In southern Finland winter lasts for about four months. After a long, cold and dark fall first snow turns Finland into winter wonderland. Well, sometimes into a wet and slushy wonderland too. Days are very short and in Lapland sun doesn’t rise in three months. Temperatures varies from +5 celsius to -35 celsius. Winter is also the best season to see Northern Lights.

Finland’s Independence Day and Christmas holidays will give a break from work and studies. It’s a good time to celebrate, enjoy of the beautiful nature and eat well. Additionally students have a winter holiday in February so they can enjoy winter weather and winter sports. In winter you can enjoy activities like ice-skating, cross country skiing and downhill skiing. Thousands of lakes in Finland will be frozen in winter. You can go walking, skiing, ice-skating, ice fishing or even drive a car on ice. The bravest will go swimming in an ice hole. Ice will be melting in midsummer in the Northern part of Finland. Or you can be at home in front of a fireplace enjoying a hot drink wearing the coziest clothes and woolen stocks.

Finland’s Independence Day is a national public holiday held on 6th of December. Many festivities are being kept all around Finland. In the evening the Presidential Independence Day reception is being broadcasted from the Presidential Palace. Independence day is all about respecting veterans and being grateful for our beautiful country.

As we all know Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi, Finland. Christmas Eve is being celebrated on 24th of December. It includes eating lots of traditional Christmas foods and sparing time with family. Santa Claus delivers gifts in Christmas Eve. Many Finnish people goes to church and visits graveyards.

When I think of Finland I can see a beautiful landscape of snowy nature. To me, winter is the best season to enjoy Finnish nature and culture.

 

My Experiences of Finnishness

I have lived my whole life in Finland. And even though I like to travel a lot, it’s always great to come back home to Finland. I think that Finland is a great country to live in because we have such great health-care systems and high-quality education. Also, we have a possibility to get financial support from the government which makes living easier. Of course, there are always budget cuts and people complain about them a lot, but things could be worse and basically, we are really lucky to be living in Finland.  

I have been told a lot that I am “a typical Finn”. That’s mostly because I have blond hair and blue eyes and I am quite tall. I am also very shy at first, like most Finns, and honesty is really important to me. And I love sauna. I think living here in Finland has made me who I am and Finnishness will always be an important part of me. I am really proud to be a Finn and I think that most people see that in me. Still there are parts of me that I would like to change and which came with my Finnish heritage. For example, I don’t like that I am so shy. But luckily that’s a thing I can change about myself and I have been trying to do that. I think this time abroad will increase my social skills even more and I am really excited to become a more open and courageous person. However, I am glad that I have been so shy because it has taught me to be cautious and really listen to others which have helped me to get this far.

I think it’s funny how Finnish people avoid strangers in public. Everyone wants to mind their own business and don’t want to interact with others. For example, in bus stops people who are waiting for the bus always keep their distance (usually at least two meters) and never even smile at each other. I have noticed that people will think that your weird if you just smile to strangers (this is extremely annoying because I like to smile a lot). And when people finally get to the bus, they don’t want to sit next to anyone. If you have to sit next to someone you might get a very angry look and a deep sigh from the other passenger. I think this is because personal space is very important to Finnish people. But even though we value privacy and personal space a lot, we tend to value friendship even more. I think that friendships mean a lot to Finnish people and we appreciate our friends. Because when we bother to open up to someone and let them close, the friendship lasts for life.

In my opinion the best thing about Finland is nature.  I love the fact that we have all four seasons here: winter, spring, summer and autumn (you can see all of them in the pictures). Winters are the most beautiful on sunny days when there is a lot of snow. And you might also see Northern lights, which is an amazing phenomenon, especially in Lapland. In the winter, it’s also really cold here, sometimes even over -20 degrees, but I think it’s worth it.  In the autumn you can see the forests change color and that’s also really beautiful. Summers here are not quite hot, but they are warm enough. I don’t know a better feeling than hanging out with my friends on a beautiful summer day in a park and eating ice-cream.

Finland, my homeland

There are four things that are important to me in Finland and those are security, nature, technology and quality of education. These things are also held in high regard in the Finnish culture.

Finland is known for the low corruption rates in the leadership and public sector and there is a high trust for law enforcement.

The quality of education in Finland is known across the globe.

The beautiful Finnish nature brings in tourists from all corners of the world during all seasons, especially to Lapland.

Four seasons.

With the Finnish economy slowly growing, more and more start-ups are popping up, mostly within the technological fields. New and innovative ideas are being born in Finland every year.

 

What to do in Finland? I mostly enjoy the summer time. We have a lot of outdoor activities like festivals and sports, if the weather is good (it usually isn’t).

During summers I spend some time at my cottage on the coast near Vaasa, enjoying the beautiful archipelago.

 

Vaasa archipelago. Photo: Jaakko J Salo.

 

During the proper winter (Jan-Mar) we will have a lot of snow and sub-zero degrees centigrade.

There’s a lot of sport activities that can be done during this time as well as walk on the frozen lakes.

Finland: the fastest nation in the world

Finland has a specific kind of reputation in motorsports. We have successful Formula 1 drivers such as Kimi Räikkönen, Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen. Finland is also a home of great rally drivers like Marcus Grönholm, Tommi Mäkinen and Ari Vatanen.

Kimi Räikkönen
source: https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimi_R%C3%A4ikk%C3%B6nen

What makes Finns so good at motorsports? I blame the narrow forest roads, the Finnish sisu and long distances at the countryside. Also challenging road conditions in winter surely play a role in this.

Many Finns get their driver’s license immediately when they turn 18.  In the countryside, it is almost a necessity. You can’t get almost anywhere without a car or a ride from a friend or a family member.  Therefore, besides a necessity, cars are a common hobby in the countryside. Young guys (and girls!) work on their cars in the family barns, tractor halls and so on. Even underage children might have an old car they drive around in the hay field or on the ice of frozen lakes and repair themselves or with help of  parents, friends or older siblings.

Ice road racing. Source: https://www.vrcf.fi/foorumi/index.php?topic=3227.75

In the cities, an own car isn’t such as necessity as it is in the countryside. However, it makes life easier in many ways: moving, shopping trips, road trips, and going all the way to the other side of the city are only a few examples. Many “city kids”, including myself, are also fascinated about the technique of engines and the idea of driving fast. The city just doesn’t offer as many possibilities to work on cars and drive them fast (legally) as the countryside. In the city centre it’s rare to have a garage, and even in the suburban area the garages are usually only big enough to drive the car in and out. Luckily garage space can be rented solely for the purpose of working on cars.

Whether you live in the city or in the countryside, cars and motorsports will always be (At least for some) a part of being a Finn.

Finnishness

I think that people who come to Finland think first that we Finns are very ”grympy” and sullen. We want to keep our own space and everyone and everything new is some kind of threat for us. We don’t talk unless we have to or if we want to. When we leave at the apartment we don’t want to face neighbours in the stairway, and we get embarrassed if someone strange starts talking in the elevator.

Sounds pretty bad, but that’s who we are. When you get to know us, we turn more approachable, and in the end we are pretty nice people.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen maisema

One thing we can be proud of is our nature here in Finland. We have many lakes and forest at least little bit everywhere. The nature and landscape is really beautiful, and they changes with different time of year. For example at spring there are many different colours, when leafs changes red, yellow and brown. And at summer there are so green and verdant everywhere. Right now in Finland there is a lot of snow and when the sun shines it looks almost like a winter wonderland.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomi talvi

Finnish holidays

Each country has its own holidays, as well as Finland. Around the year Finns spend a variety of celebrations, some are known around the world, but some are Finns own story. Like everyone probably knows, Finland is located in north where the sun does not rise at all during the winter. Umh, and the winter lasts almost nine months in Finland… or at least the dark and cold time.

Fortunately, Finns have these holidays that cheer up in the middle of darkness and coldness. Okay, luckily we have also a three-month summer when the sun does not drop even at the night.

New Year’s Day

The very first holiday at the year is New Year’s Day. (First of January) The day, when everyone is tired of yesterdays celebrating and fireworks shooting. It’s also a day, when New Year’s promises keeping starts. Someones promises to save money, someones promises to start a diet. And very traditional Finn New Year’s promise is ”tipaton tammikuu”, it means that no alcohol in January. Good start for a good year!

Kuvahaun tulos haulle new year promise

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day celebrating hasn’t been very common in Finland expect for the last few years. But Valentine’s Day has become more commercial day, because Valentine’s Day gifts are bought every year more and more. In Finland, a day is usually celebrated with our friends or partner at the movies or eating. Sending Valentine’s Day cards is also common.

 

 

Kuvahaun tulos haulle valentine's day

 

 

EasterKuvahaun tulos haulle virpojatEaster is a quite big holiday in Finland in spring. Finns are not very religious nation, so celebrating is more for children. Traditional Finn Easter manner is wish another person health and happiness on Palm Sunday by tapping them lightly with a willow twig and chanting a rhyme. It’s usually done by children in quest for candy. A willow twig is decorated with colorful feathers and children are also dressed like witches or Easter bunnies. Traditional Easter food is lamb and Finnish Easter pudding, which is made of rye.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pääsiäisruoka

 

First of MayKuvahaun tulos haulle vappuFirst of May is common westerner holiday and in Finland carnerval for a workpeople and students. Usually celebrating happens in the cities downtown and everyone is wearing their graduation caps. Traditional drinks are mead, sparkling wines and shampagne. Funnel cake is also very own Finnish thing. Families with children are usually celebrating a day in carnivals and circus where balloons is a big thing.Kuvahaun tulos haulle vappu toriKuvahaun tulos haulle tippaleipä

Midsummer

Midsummer means fest of light and midsummer. Then sun doesn’t drop at all in Northern Finland. Midsummer sauna with bath whisk made of birch, bonfire and midsummer dances are very traditional manner in Finland. Almost everybody is celebrating it at their own summerhouse with family or friends. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol is always been part of Finns celebrating. Midsummer fest have also very old magic tricks and belifies. If you roll on grainfield at the morning dew, you can see in your dreams your future husband. It is also believed that drinking alcohol drives out evil spirits, and the harvest will be the better the more you drink.Kuvahaun tulos haulle juhannusHalloween

Celebrating Halloween hasn’t been very common in Finland, expect the last few years. It’s been more like remembering departed people. The most important symbol is grinning pumpkin. Departed people, ghosts, vampires, witches and black cats are also favourite symbols. Children usually wear ghost or other costumes and go door to door asking trick or treat.Kuvahaun tulos haulle karkki vai kepponenIndependent Day

Finland’s Independence Day is very important and big day for all Finns. Finland celebrates it’s 100th anniversary on 2017. Independence is still important to the Finns and touches us because we lost more than 60 000 soldiers, most of them was young men aged 20.Kuvahaun tulos haulle itsenäisyyspäiväTraditional Independence Day program include watching movie ”Tuntematon Sotilas” (”The Unknown Soldier”), that tells of the Finnish war against the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1945.

In the evening, the Presidential Independence Day reception is shown on the TV. There is invited almost 2000 guest in every year. Usually people admire the guests gowns and always vote for the ”Castle Balls” queen and king.Kuvahaun tulos haulle linnan juhlat

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve and Day and Boxing Day

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulu

Christmas is the most biggest holiday in Finland. There is so much tradition manners and foods. On Christmas Eve usually families gather together and eat Christmas food. Christmas table’s king is absolutely ham! Also rosolli salad, rutabaga casserole, potato casserole, carrot casserole and salmon is very common. In the evening Santa Claus from Korvatunturi will visit and share gifts for children. Christmas carols, cards, costumes, get together and visiting in cemetery are traditional manners in Finland.Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulupöytä

 

 

New Years Eve

Kuvahaun tulos haulle fireworks helsinki

New Year’s Eve is a last day in a whole year. A day when Finns celebrate spended year. Shooting fireworks and pouring of tin in to water is traditional manner in Finland. Melted tin sets fast and the shape of tin tells you a lot of what is coming on next year. Maybe it’s a coin which means a lot of money or maybe it’s a heart and you will find a love. No one knows…

Kuvahaun tulos haulle tinan valaminen

 

Finnish nature

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Finland is the beautiful nature we have. In Finland we have all four seasons summer, autumn, winter and spring. Summers aren’t that warm here in Finland. During the summer Finns visit their summer cottages, barbeques and enjoy life. In Finland we have so called “yötön yö” which means that sun doesn’t set at all.

Autumn is very beautiful in Finland. Trees turn to red and yellow. It is time to go mushrooming and picking up apples. Autumn is also perfect time to go hikinng.

In Finland we get lots of snow during the winter (at least in the north). Winter is cold and dark. In wintertime we have so called “kaamos” which means that sun doesn’t rise at all. It is the opposite to the “yötön yö” that we have in the summer. We have a lot of winter activities such as skiing, ice-hockey, snowboarding and etc. One very Finnish thing to do in the winter is to go swimming into the frozen lake/river. Finns drill hole into the ice and dips in. It is common to go to sauna to warm up afterwards.

When the spring comes people are very happy, because cold and dark winter is behind us and the summer is coming!

The Wonderland

Finland, the Wonderland

Finland is a country where the most beautiful people live. It is also a country of high education and equality. Finns are known of their honesty, loyalty and shyness. They say that if you make friends with a Finn, it lasts for a lifetime. These are well known facts, but what else is Finland?

Finland is also a lot more. Finland is an amazing Wonderland. People living and visiting in this Wonderland can enjoy the pureness of the nature and the characters found only there.

Amazing characters of the Wonderland

Joulupukki, Santa Clause

Up north in Korvatunturi, Rovaniemi, you can meet the one and only Santa Claus all year round. Santa Claus lives there and you can meet him personally. Children and why not adults, can visit Santa Claus and give their wish list for Christmas. It is a magical place where all the childhood dreams can come true!

Muumit, Moomins

But wait, what are those white little creatures? They must be the Moomins. You can’t miss Moomins if you visit Finland. They are all around. These loved characters you can meet for real in Naantali, where is the Moomin World. There is also a museum in Tampere for Moomins.

Angry Birds

Have you ever met an Angry Bird? Finns have created this worldwide known game for everyone to enjoy. We also have theme parks to get the real experience. You can imagine yourself inside of the game and survive from one obstacle to another. The best part is that there are many theme parks around Finland. You can just choose easily where to step into that Angry Bird adventure.

Breathtaking nature of the Wonderland

Okay we have the amazing characters all around Finland. But that alone doesn’t make Finland a real Wonderland yet. Finnish nature is something amazing. Just a right place to live if you are a magical character like the ones above. Finland’s four seasons takes breath away. Spring is the time when the nature starts to gloom after long winter. Summer will please you with flowers, endless amount of lakes, berries and animals. Autumn will amaze you with a great wide of colors. Winter has a secret source of light, and it is the Northern Lights. Finns secret weapon against dark winter. Northern Lights are mysterious, because they appear many times during winter, but you might miss them if you want to see them too much.

Being a Finn

Being a Finn, I am proud and thankful of this Wonderland. There is nothing better than to visit Santa Claus during Christmas time and see the magical Northern Lights at the same trip. Or enjoy summertime with a book of Moomins adventures while birds are singing and blueberries waiting for me to eat them.

Finnish Seasons

Finland is land of beautiful forest and clean waters. Finns love to go to their cottages during their summer break and many of us enjoy our beautiful nature.

Henkilön Helena Kapanen kuva.

In Finland we have four different seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Every of those seasons have their own effects to Finns, we are like two different people during summer, when there hardly is dark nights at all, and during winter when it is always dark.

When it is summer, Finns go to concerts and festivals, we will have good time and drink beer. Summer is the time for living, it is the time for joy!

Henkilön Helena Kapanen kuva.

When autumn comes, it is time to go to the forest and collect mushrooms and berries, Finland’s forest offers best and most healthy treats there can be.

Henkilön Helena Kapanen kuva.

During winter you should put on your woolen socks, it is common that Finns have even made them themselves from Novita’s yarn. Those self-made socks will chase away depression of the cold and dark winter.

Henkilön Helena Kapanen kuva.

And when the spring comes, it is time to go out again to see the sun.

 

My Experiences of Finnishness

For me, being Finnish means berry-picking trips in the middle of North-Karelian mosquito-filled woods in my grandmother’s century-old jacket, and afterwards, the scent of a freshly baked blueberry pie. Being Finnish is filling a crossword puzzle in the morning at our summer cottage’s patio with a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. It is celebrating the mid summer and watching a flaming bonfire. Being Finnish is  sensing the crisp, cold Nordic air in the wintertime (meaning freezing your butt off), waiting for a bus, which is always late from schedule due to heavy snow.

When I think about the Finnish way of life, I just imagine an all-round basic and simple everyday life. For me, being Finnish is not about being beautiful and polished, it is being pure, bare and honest, which I love. We as whole don’t crave for spectacles, we strive from tradition and harmonic life of honest labor and steady, safe family lives. The stereotypical Finn works a 9 to 5 job for the  most of the year, escapes to his summer cottage for the summer, and returns to the workplace with a messy hair and an uneven summer tan. Steady, safe and familiar, routine-filled life is what I grew up with, and what I respect.

One of my favorite things about Finland is the nature. We have such a beautiful nature surrounding us, which we often seem to take for granted. Although the summer may be wet and cloudy some times, the beautiful view of a lake landscape or the green forests is without a doubt humbling. When other countries may suffer from drought or overpopulation, our small country is full of nature, space, and places to explore. The wintertime is so beautiful, when every place is packed with fresh, white, untouched snow.

Only recently have I woken up to the fact that I love being a normal Finn. I’m glad we have free education, good healthcare and a broad knowledge of different things. Whether I’m staying at home or exploring the town, I feel safe and not afraid. I grew up knowing that I can trust others, and do what I wish. We have freedom of speech and equality.

Being Finnish is knowing the lyrics or the evergreen iskelmä-songs. Being Finnish is stuffing ketchup in every single meal, no matter if the flavor serves any meaning to the food itself.  Being Finnish is dark humor, sarcasm and bad puns. Being Finnish is coffee, Fazer-chocolate, rye bread and sausage. Being Finnish is being Me! 🙂