Tag Archives: Finnish

Who are Finns?

Finland is all about the nature and all the beautiful and unique views and all the aspects that are related to of a Finnish nature. Our habits are based on it what possibilities nature has given to us. Finland is the country of thousands lakes and lakes have made us to swim in every time of the year. Finnish weather is cold, so we have been really into Sauna. And the Finnish crazyness must be one of the cosequenses of the weather and being isolated here in the dark and north. We became survivors and that is seen still in our behavior. We are not so good at accepting help, but we can manage even under the hard pressure.

 

Many could describe Finns very unsocial, but in certain situations we appear to be very social and have a great team spirit. The real Finnishness can be seen in public saunas and in an ice hole in winter and on public ice hockey fields. There people gather and talk to strangers and make friends without inhibition. For example in this photo you can see me playing ice-hockey with a bunch of strangers. It was really fun and we spent several hours there skating and playing. Want to get to know some Finns? Go and get skates and go ice-skating or get your swimsuit and hat and try some ice-swimming. You might be surprised.

Forest and metal

Finland is the home to many lakes, forests, and most metal bands in the world per capita. It is fair to assume that these are connected as folk melodies and instruments are a very common asset and nature an equally common source of inspiration and lyrical theme in Finnish metal music. I think the phenomenon has its roots in Finns being a very down-to-earth people with a close connection to nature, as only some decades ago most of the population lived in the countryside.

It is a common misconception that Finns are a very depressed people. Statistically they’re not. I think Finns just appreciate their personal space and only speak when they actually have something to say, and this might give the impression of a very reserved people.

When talking about Finnish music, most of it, maybe excluding hip hop which I know nothing about, does sound more depressive than the international hits. That’s why I think metal suits Finland very well. Finland’s black metal scene is also very interesting and deeper underground than that of the more  commercially successful Norwegian cousins.

Moonsorrow playing in Tampere

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! 🙂

General opinion of Finnish people?

I’m trying to wrap my head around the general opinion of Finnish people. If I think about it from an “outsiders” point of view, I see a nation that is doing quite well, people who might be a little bit reserved but who are still very helpful, kind and are open minded.

When talking to people who are not from Finland and asking, “What is your opinion of a Finnish person?” sometimes the answer is that we are shy and quiet and sometimes that we are loud and talkative (this one usually happens if you drink alcohol).

Some have a language barrier with foreign people, maybe their English is not so good, so they seem shy and quiet, even though maybe they would like to get to know the person.

Something that I’ve been wondering a lot is why do the Finns need so much space, where does it come from? Even when we talk to each other we keep our distance. For me, it’s funny, it’s just how we are. A funny example of the need for personal space you can see in this picture where Finnish people are waiting for the bus.

 

I also recommend visiting a blog called Finnish Nightmares. It is one of the funniest pages ever! There is so much truth in the posts, but it really is just funny!

Kuvahaun tulos haulle finnish nightmares

I will end my post with telling you my favorite thing about Finland.

So for me it really is the summer, going to the cottage with my family, going to sauna and going for a swim in the lake. I can’t experience this often since I usually have been away the summers, so when I get to go, it makes me so happy. The forrest surrounds me and it really feels like you can just forget about all your problems, they seem so far when you are so relaxed.

/Katariina

Finnishness for me

For me, Finnishness is the unique experience of not bothering and also of not being bothered by people in public places.  There is a special day when Finns talk to each other, especially to strangers. It is called a “Friday”. On Fridays it is customary to enter the warm embrace of the closest Sauna that you can find and enjoy a beer – “Saunakalja” – with friends, or in more public places, with strangers. On Fridays you may also see intoxicated Finns wandering the streets, looking to impart great knowledge upon anyone they bump into.

Image result for kaljaa perjantai

Jokes aside, I have no idea  what it actually means to be Finnish. What is it that actually defines our culture? Is it our laws, our holidays or maybe our education? I don’t know. I’m not qualified at all to tackle this question. I’m not a very group-oriented person.

What I do know, is that every country has its own stereotypes, and they do exist for a reason. There will always be people that embody those stereotypes, but in my experience everyone is an individual in the end. Even if someone seems to fit into a stereotype, once you get to know them, you might see them in a somewhat different light. Everyone has their own history, dreams, fears and regrets. Other than the language we speak as our mother tongue, I can’t think of a thing that separates a Finn from the rest of the human race.

I was born in Finland, grew up here and went to school here. As a child I regularly traveled to Russia (5-10 times a year, for 15 years) with my family and I can confidently say that generally speaking, people in both of these countries are in many ways similar. We are all just human. Individuals suffering or enjoying their current circumstances.

 

 

These aren’t the Finns you’re looking for

To get you to the mood: put this track on, imagine yourself on a finnish summer cottage on a lakeside and continue reading.

Eukon kanto

As a sport in Finland we carry our wives.Eukonkanto
There is even world championship race of wife carrying kept here. Race is kept in a track modified to meet the standards of Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee. Track is 253,5 meters and the wife carried can be yours or someone elses. (If you’re brave enough it can even be your neighbours wife!). Wife also must meet the standards of WCCRC: she has to be at least 17 years old and weigh over 49 kg (~108 lb). The contestants run the race in groups of two couples, and the winner is the couple who has the shortest time. To make the race more interesting for everyone there is also awards for most entertaining couple, best costume and the strongest carrier.

 

Mämmi

TMämmihe culinarities of Finns. You may have heard of the strange recipes of Finnish people, which include rye bread, salty liquorice and mämmi. Mämmi is sweet traditional Easter dessert in Finland. It is traditionally packaged in birch bark bowls, called rove or tuokkonen. It can be consumed with or without cream and sugar, both of which give mämmi a little bit sweeter and more dessert like taste.

 

Jokamiehenoikeus

In Finland you have this rare thing Retkicalled ’Every-mans-right’ which gives you right to enjoy Finnish nature to the fullest. It still does not mean you can do whatever, where-ever. It gives you a possibility to go camping, go fishing with a fishing rod or jig and during your visit to the wilds you can also eat some berries! But you must know that there is limits to these rights , so you better make friends with the Finnish people first so they will tell you the basics.

Why I love Finland

I am very proud of my home country. Our country is beautiful. We can live safe and our health care is free. Most of us have jobs and our school system is one of the best in the world. I love to see different countries but it is always good to be back at home. I am going to tell you couple things why i love to be Finnish.

NATURE

Finnish nature is something that everyone should see. We have thousands of lakes and forests. We have four seasons which colors our nature with amazing touch even tough we have lot of rainy days. In Winter we have snow, in autumn we have fall colors. Thats not so usual in other countries. This also enable many different activities. Skiing and downhill skiing, skating, hiking, mushroom and berry picking, swimming in a lake etc. are very popular with finnish people and also with tourists.

laskettelu

http://www.pirkka.fi/artikkeli/954-laskettelu

SAUNA and SWIMMING

My favourite thing in my home country is Sauna. When it is getting cold outside finnish people heats up their saunas almost every day. Some of us also like to go swim after sauna to the ice cold water. It is fun that we use sauna also in summer. Many finnish people have summer gottage. Each of them have sauna. So it is usual heat sauna in summertime and splash to the lake to cool off.

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www.saunaonline.fi

SPORTS

One of the proudest things here is Finnish National Icehockey Team. Finnish people are not so good in many sports, but when we play icehockey we are world-renowned. We support loud. We are also very proud of our javelin throwers. After big competition you can read many articles about these sports. I like to watch every game or competition where is Finnish team or athlete.

antti_ruuskanen_0

www.ita-savo.fi

My experience of Finnishness

Short Comparison of Turku and Tampere

Before describing my personal opinion about Finland, I would like to talk a bit about how it all for me. In the beginning, about 5 years ago, our whole family moved to Turku, from where we were given an opportunity to integrate into Finnish society by learning their language. To be honest, the learning was not easy, but luckily the process became possible for me time by time, by ending up with a fluent knowledge of such incredibly difficult language, and a lot of wonderful Finnish friends who are happy to talk with me in Finnish.

By spending plenty of time in Turku, as well I was sometimes visiting Tampere, which fascinated me equally each time I visited this place. First of all, my personal opinion is that the nature looks a lot more beautiful in Tampere, especially the place between two lakes “pispalanharju”. As well, for some reason I realised that there is more happenings in the centre, than in Turku, in addition the centre of the city looks quite bigger and more interesting!

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Nature

To emphasise a bit more about this topic, I gathered couple of pictures taken by me during my stay in Tampere. Here you can see some of the moments that made me stand for a while and enjoy the happenings. Forests were always really beautiful to me, and it was absolutely difficult to find any kind of garbage around, which made me think that its one of the most cleanest countries in the world.

Of course I did realise that summers here are not really sunny, but I did enjoy winter many times, and actually once I found near supermarket a Finnish man who had an interesting method of transportation by using a carriage and these beautiful four huskies pulling him during the winter time in Tampere. If you ask me, I did not try that, but certainly would want to!

Nevertheless, I am satisfied that my Finnish friends showed me their activities during the winter season, which are mainly snowboarding/skiing and ice-skating. And as well to mention, I learned to ice-skate properly exactly from Finland!

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Sauna

Of course, one of the most important things in Finland is sauna! To be honest, I was really surprised when I realised that you can find a personal sauna almost in every Finnish apartment. This made me love Finland even more; I was literally almost every second day in  sauna!

At the same time, I realised that sauna is one of the methods for Finnish people to socialise, which is mostly supported by a friendly consumption of beer. And actually this is the only way how you can really talk with them about everything, just wait till they get drunk! 😀

As well about the sauna, here you can see a floating sauna. This is obviously one of inventions which only Finnish people can come up to!

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A quick glance at Finnishness

During my travels outside Finland I’ve observed foreigners reactions and behavior against Finns. When I’ve introduced myself as a Finn, the reactions have been positive every time. From this you can conclude that certain characteristics unite us Finns. I’ve noticed that Finns have a reputation of being trustworthy above all. One Yank I met didn’t even know exactly where Finland is, but still he had heard only good from us, and most importantly knew we weren’t Swedes.

Me and few of my friends put the Finnish reputation to the test during our road trip in Jordania when we agreed that at the first military checkpoint we speak English and don’t mention our nationality. The result was a full vehicle and passport check. At the next checkpoint me as driver shouted from the car window, in arabic, “Hello, we are from Finland” and without a doubt the soldier greeted with a smile and a thumbs up and let us be on our way without any further questions. At that time I really understood how superior our reputation is around the world, even in a poor city at middle of Jordanian desert.

Finnish reputation has spread over the Red Sea to Jordanian desert

Of course, Finnishness is much about preconceptions which are true in far too many occasions. For you who wants’ to get familiar with Finnish culture and blend in, here’s a small to-do list just for you:

– Learn to hide you feelings. Work your poker face daily.

– Get to know Finnish traditional delicacies like mämmi and salty liquorice. After that, offer them to any foreigner and laugh at their reactions.

– Watch highlight videos from Youtube of ice hockey World Championships from 1995 and 2011. Learn who Timo Jutila is and what “6-1” means.

– Learn to hate Swedes. Hate their language, friendliness and their trendy clothes. Hate also Finnish Swedes, they are almost as bad as Swedes. Or maybe even worse with their boats and accent.

– Never ever talk to a stranger if they don’t start the conversations. Just don’t. That’s definitely not Finnish.

– Be proud of everything related to Finland. But don’t show it to anyone.

Horrible day for a Finn

 

So here was a quick glance at Finnishness and what it means to be a Finn. Hope you enjoyed!

Being a Finnish abroad

While traveling long time abroad, not meeting any people from your homeland, makes you think why you feel togetherness with people who come from same area as you, even thought you are still strangers to each others? My opinion is that you can feel the same with anyone, from anywhere in the world, because of other reasons, like same kind of interests or past or anything..

But still there is something special when you can start to speak your own language after a long time, talk about recent news from Finland and maybe have common friends or special places back at home. I think for Finnish people specially this is important, because we are such a small country, foreign people don’t always know much about us, and meeting another Finnish far away might be sometimes really rare.

rauma
Street food in Vietnam. Made me feel homesick to my home town Rauma.

My favorite memory about this subject is, when I was travelling in South East Asia. At the time I had traveled for about 1,5 months, and meeting only one Finnish before this. So there I was, in Thailand, traveling from Koh Tao to Bangkok by ferry and night bus. When we got to bus, somehow there was me, two girls traveling together, and two guys, all at the back of bus. We chatted for a while, and when it got late we could say good night in Finnish. That felt really special and made me feel cozy in this really uncomfortable bus.

Some personality traits that I appreciate especially in Finns, are honesty, accuracy and keeping what they promise. Sometimes you can hear that Finnish people are shy, even rude for strangers. But I think it depends on you. If you smile to Finnish people, they will smile back, if you ask for help, they sure will help you.

lippis
Sometimes while travelling, you can find something really silly that only you can understand. Here is one good example I found from South Korea.