Tag Archives: food

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

 

My kind of Finnishness

I started this assignment by thinking what I understand by the term “Finnishness”. To me, it’s all the things that make me feel like myself the most. Places where I can be me, food I love to eat and hobbies I absolutely love to fill my spare time with. Things that give me a deep sense of satisfaction and peace of mind.

Forests

Nature in general is still very near to Finnish people, even in the cities. Lakes, forests, fells in Lapland… They are all places people seem to gravitate to. I grew up in the eastern part of Finland where there is an abundance of woods. Even today forests are places where I go to relax and quieten, to ground myself in a sense. I especially like to hike in the woods with my dogs.

Scenery from a forest, flavored with my doggie. (Image copyright is to me, do not copy.)

Karjalanpaisti

Nothing says Finnish food to me more than Karjalanpaisti (Karelian stew or hot pot in English). The stew has its roots in Karelia, the eastern region of Finland. It contains meat, usually pork, beef or lamb. I personally love the combination of lamb and beef. Root vegetables such as carrots and onions are added to the meat. The stew is seasoned with whole black peppercorns, allspice berries or bay leaf.

The meat is first seared and then placed in a big pot with the other ingredients. The pot is then filled with water and placed in an oven to braise. The cooking takes several hours in a low heat. The best oven for cooking is the traditional masonry oven, but not many have those these days.

I absolutely love this stew, it’s so yummy and perfect in its simplicity. I don’t have an image to add to this post, since the stew is always eaten before I manage to take pictures of it. It’s that good.

Crafts

Finland has quite long traditions in crafts. Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to learn the really old traditions, I still love different kinds of crafts. Especially knitting and crocheting are some of my favorite ways to relax and concentrate. My mother and both my grandmothers all knit and crochet, so it makes me feel close to them as well.

At the moment I am participating in an event called Kalevala CAL. CAL is an abbreviation of the words “Crochet Along”. Basically a CAL is a project where a lot of people are taking part and crocheting the same pattern. This particular CAL is a lovely tribute to Finnish culture and traditions, because it draws inspiration from the Finnish national epic Kalevala. The end product will be a large blanket where each square is inspired by different stories and characters from Kalevala. I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate Finnishness than this crafts project.

If you’re interested in the Kalevala CAL project, you can find more information here: http://www.arteeni.fi/kalevalacal-en

Some of my crocheting from Kalevala CAL.
(Image copyright is to me, do not copy.)

All in all, Finnishness to me is not one or two separate things. Rather it’s a variety of things which define me as a Finnish individual. In addition to these three subjects, there are a bunch more I find dear to me.

 

My Finnishness

My exchange has already started when I am writing this so my perspective to Finnishness has already changed little bit. I want to write you about things what I seem to be missing from Finland.

Lakes and midsummer

Finland is known from its lakes “Land of a Thousand lakes”. Before my exchange I had no idea that I could be missing lakes, but seems that I am really used to swimming. Lakes also seems to be meeting place with friends, a place to gather around and relax.

This was my first summer away from Finland and I missed Finnish mid-summer party, which usually includes lake, swimming, tasty food and bonfire. I was seriously considering flying back to Finland just for midsummer, but finally I did not. I guess next year I must celebrate twice as much.

Food

In Finland I was used to eating rye bread and porridge, but they seem to be really hard to find here or they are really expensive. Of course idea is to experience local culture and food, but my eating habits seems to be hard to change.

Before my exchange I did realise that these are things which I would miss from finland, but that seems to be the case here. I guess these things are “Finnishness” to me.

Here is picture of finnish midsummer bonfire called “kokko”

My home in Finland – where my story began

For me being a Finn is a weird concept. I can’t seem to relate to most of the stereotypes of Finnish people on a personal level. I am social and outgoing, I don’t mind people entering my personal space (if I know them), I am very affectionate and I am loud and giggly and I actually don’t like sauna that much. The stereotype of grumpy Finns who prefer to grunt in response and avoid interaction with other people whenever possible doesn’t seem to suit me. But I am still a Finn and it means other things to me as it is different for everyone. I guess belonging somewhere comes from yourself and what you believe it means and requires. In a way I am a Finn because I was born in Finland and lived here most of my life. But my times abroad and meeting international people have changed me as well as a person. So it’s not just about where you come from, it’s about who you are and want to be.

But enough of that philosophical blabbering, let’s get down to the things that I think make me a Finn.

Nature

Whether it is camping outside and gazing at the stars while roasting marshmallows or sausages on a campfire or skinny dipping in a lake and running back into a sauna on a clear summer night, nature has always been close to me. I grew up in the country side so I got to experience it on a whole new level. There’s nothing more calming to going into the forest on a clear snow day and just listening to the sound of nature while admiring the view that unfolds before you. Snowy landscape is one of my favorite sights to see and it holds the candle to the other wonders of the world. This part of Finnishness also holds the sports we get to do during winter time. Ice skating, skiing, sliding down the hill on a sleigh, all of these and many more would not be possible in many other places.

Food and drinks

There are quite many foods that you wouldn’t come across elsewhere or there might be something similar. I know these names won’t mean much to you but for example karjalanpiirakka, piparkakku, karjalanpaisti, mämmi (which is disgusting by the way) or salted liquorices. We Finns do love our salted liquorice, we put it into almost anything; ice cream, chocolate, alcohol etc. Salmari, the alcoholic drink, is good by the way. Which brings us to the drinking culture in Finland. In a lot of countries drinking is a social thing where as in Finland we can also just do “kalsarikännit” which basically means getting drunk in our underwear alone at home. That’s another thing we do, we get drunk. Sometimes might enjoy a glass or two when having food or going to sauna but if we go out we go all out. During the weekend around 4 am you can find Finns queuing up to a pizzeria or some snack kiosk with greasy food to get something to fill their alcohol infused bellies. And that’s when we actually talk to strangers even if they wouldn’t want you to.

 

Language

I can’t even count how many times I’ve enjoyed listening to foreigners trying to speak Finnish. I really appreciate the effort though and I congratulate you for trying since it’s definitely not the easiest language. Even Finns have trouble understanding each other depending which part of the country they come from. To many Finnish just sounds like a really long word since we do not tend to breathe in between while talking. We take a deep breath and let it all out in one go. No wonder we don’t talk much. If we don’t have anything to say why say anything at all. Words hold quite a lot of power and verbal agreements can be almost as binding as written ones. If you make a promise you are excepted to hold true to your words. But Finnish language can be quite funny once you learn it (if you learn it).

So I would proudly say, yes I am a Finn. But I am also me and that is so much more.

About Finnishness

Perseverance

I would say one Finnish thing is perseverance. Sometimes it is even funny when people just can’t stop doing something even if it’s little bit stupid to move on. Finnish people do what he or she has promised to do. And if there is obstacles Finnish don’t care, they keep going with this “suomalainen sisu”. There are examples when people have built their houses in very challenging places because “I want my home there even it is the last thing I am going to do in my life”. Finnish people are known for their perseverance and we have had for example success in sport because of it.

I think one of the reasons for perseverance is that we have had so cold and rugged nature that we just had to find our way to survive in this big country. And in war against huge Russia (or Soviet Union) we really need our perseverance and that’s why we are independent.

We have statue for Finnish perseverance and it is built on top of mountain in Lapland.  And did you know we have even pastille named “Sisu”?

 

 

First sunny days

One thing that Finnish love is the first days in Spring when sun comes up. The whole long (and maybe dark if there isn’t snow) winter we just wait for the sun. Of course, it is lovely to have four different seasons but warm summer is something we really love. When there is first sunny days people become little bit crazy. Everyone get their grills out from the storage and suddenly there is plenty of barbequing stuff at all food markets. People find their summer clothes and bar terraces are full of half-naked Finnish enjoying beer. And summer flowers need to bring to the garden… There is always risk that summer ends short so we must take all the pleasure out of it right away!

 

Finnish food

Because Finland is very large country we have different food traditions in different parts of Finland. But there are some Finnish specialties that everyone should have tasted, at least one time in life.

Finnish rye bread is one thing Finnish people love. It is healthy, keeps hunger away and tastes good. My favorite thing is Karelian pie (“karjalanpiirakka”) which comes near East border. Karelian pie is special thin rye bread filled with rice porridge and typically you put some egg-butter on top of it. During Easter, we eat “Mämmi” which is black rye porridge. Typically, we eat it with cream but also vanilla sauce taste very good with it. And some people put also sugar on top of it. And from my city, Tampere, comes black sausage (“mustamakkara”). Typically, you eat it with lingonberry and cold milk.

   

Music education system

In Finland, we have exceptional music education system. We have this music school system where you can study music regardless of whether you are children or adult. Music schools can be connected with primary school or they could private schools that everybody can apply. Almost every city or at least municipality community there is music school and everybody has opportunity to play music if they want. And you can start playing even if you are adult. There is plenty of different kind of orchestras and choirs which you can participate, get new friends and meet old ones.

During the summer, there is so many different music camps and events that you can spend the whole summer vacation with music.

Reasons to fall for Finland; finnishness through my eyes.

What comes to your mind when you think about Finland. Maybe cold weather, darkness or people who want their own space? Finland and finnishness is so much more and next I am going to tell you five reasons that can also make you fall for Finland.

1) Finnish nature and lakes

The nature here in Finland is gorgeous. Finland is one of the countries that has the most forests. Almost 72% of finlands surface area is forests. One year consists of four seasons and the way the finnish nature looks, changes with them. So you can live in a big city and still there is so much beautiful nature near you.  You can also go to some of Finland’s national parks to enjoy the nature. Finland is also called “the country of thousands of lakes”, because of our about 187 888 lakes. I cannot choose a season when Finland’s nature would be the most beautiful, because the way they look during each season is so different and every season has its strong sides. Here is some pictures of finnish nature in each season. Can you pick your favourite one? 😉

2) Cottage life

We finnish people love love love to go and spend time to our own or rented cottages during all year but especially in the summer time. We usually go there during our holidays to relax and spend time with our family and friends. I personally think that there is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than to spend days and even weeks in our summer cottage eating, playing, just totally hanging out and enjoying the company of my loved ones. It is really important sometimes to just be and not worry about life. 🙂

3) Traditional foods

Well, what can I say.  I love food and we finnish people love food. Some of our traditional foods are for example Karelian hot pot, finnish fish or pork pasty, rye bread and karelian pasty with spread made of butter and hard boiled eggs. (the last one is my all time favourite) We have some traditional foods in some citys which are also worth of trying out. Just don`t let look of some of our traditional foods to scare you off. Finland is also known about it`s delicious Fazer chocolate and salty liquorice. The second one is a sweet, which to our surprise, foreign people don`t usually like.

4) Sauna

Do I even have to explain this? I think this is the most finnish thing there can be. Most Finnish people are crazy about sauna. But if there are some readers, who for some reason have not heard from sauna, it is basically a room which is heated very warm, by throwing water to hot stones that are in the sauna stove. Sauna is usually connected to cottage life (where the majority of people has a sauna) BUT many people also has a sauna in their everyday home. I just love the feeling you get when you go to the sauna and relax on the benches. And it will get even better if you have maybe a lake, or some watery area, near the sauna where you can go and dip yourself straight from sauna. And then get back in to warm up again.

5)People

I know that some of us finns are quite grumpy and we need our own space, but we still are lovely people. You just have to get to know us. I usually wonder that why foreign people say we are unfriendly and shy, because I don’t think that is the case at all. Of course every culture is different and if you come from one where people are almost “oversocial”, it can take a while to understand why we are who we are. But what I love the most about finnish people is that they are helpful, trustworthy and emphatic people. We are also very loyal to the people we love. When you get to know us, you really can see that.

A few things about Finland

Cold, dark and lots of snow; these are the things that pop into most people’s heads when asked about Finland. To me, however, Finland has always been at its best during the summer. There are several jokes about the Finnish summer, like how short it is, but at least it doesn’t snow much, or how last year Finnish summer was on a Tuesday. Still, cold or warm, wet or dry, there’s nothing that compares to it, to me at least. Everyplace is green, and you can literally smell it in the air. Seriously, if you’ve ever wondered what the color green smells like, just come to Finland in the summer.

tampere kesä

 

Still, it is the light that has the biggest effect on people. Or that’s what I think anyway. See, most people remember Finland for how dark it is in the winter, but what they forget is how light it is in the summer. The sun just doesn’t seem to want to do down. It really is in the summer that the Finnish nature, and even more, the Finnish people, come alive. Or maybe that’s just me.

keskiyönaurinko

 

Despite the coldness of our winter – and sometimes the summer as well, there is one food that Finns enjoy more than any other country in Europe, and that’s ice cream. Even if you look at the whole world, we eat more ice cream per person than almost any country in the world, only Americans, Australians, and New Zealanders eat more. We eat approximately 12 liters of ice cream every year, and considering the ice cream “season” only lasts approximately from June to August that is a lot of ice cream to eat. Our ice cream consumption is only rivaled by our coffee consumption, where we are undisputed winners with 10kg per person per year. In Finland, ice cream and coffee are literally their own food groups and during the summer it feels like there isn’t a street corner where you can’t find a hot cup of coffee, and a cold ice cream cone.

vanilja_kenya

Finland is full of large forests and beautiful lakes, and many tourists come here to enjoy the gorgeous nature. Despite that, you shouldn’t ignore the city life in Finland. Our cities seem small to us compared to the metropolises of the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find things to do in Tampere or Helsinki. Finns, just like the rest of the world, are busy, city-dwelling people, not some mystic nation living in the forest, in igloos, communing with wild animals. That isn’t to say we don’t enjoy our beautiful nature and everything it has to offer but sometimes ordering takeout home without having to leave your couch is just as enjoyable.

helsinki

3 things to love about Finland

Delicious food

There are many great foods in Finland. Most of the people are totally in love rye bread, which is not just healthy for you but is a Finnish super food too. Other delicious foods are for example smoked salmon with potatoes with a side of fresh salad from your own garden. One of the most famous treats are Fazer’s chocolates which are popular abroad as well.

RUISLEIPÄ

Cottage life by the lake

Finland is know for its many lakes and about 10% of Finland’s surface area is covered with water. Therefore, lakes are a huge part of our nature. The other thing thta is really common in Finland are the summer cottages. Almost every Finn loves to go to the country side in the summer time and some cottages can be used in the winter time as well. Spending time at the cottages has become a tradition and a trend. The cottage boom began when people moved after their jobs to the cities, but they didn’t want to spend all of their freetime in the city. Finns are nature lovin’ people and what could be better way to explore the nature than enjoy the day in the lake house.

KESÄMÖKKI

Finnish design

The country is know for other things too besides food and nature, it is known for modern yet classic design pieces. You may have heard of Artek, Iittala and Woodnotes. They have at least one thing in common, which is quality. Finns value quality and good desing, which in fact is combined in these brands. They are all unique and known for their designs, people recognize them easily and they are classic symbols to the Finnish design. The designed furnitures tend to be minimalistic and they remain classic throughout the years and for this reason they can be combined easily with other furnitures and different styles.

ARTEK

What are Finns like?

Most of the people, even Finns, think that we are a introvert population. But really we are kind, hospitable, we enjoy other peoples company and laugh together.  http://www.visitfinland.com/article/what-are-the-finns-like/

But also, every now and then, we Finns need our own space and some alone-time. We might be shy people who don’t like or know how to “small talk”, at least some of us. I think the Finnish Nightmares -comic sums up the finnish mentality pretty accurately.  http://finnishnightmares.blogspot.fi/

finns

finns_bus

One thing is for sure that Finns love our home country and we are very proud of it. For example, the main thing we are proud of is nature. We have four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter (at least we used to have (thanks to global warming)).. http://www.visitfinland.com/article/greatest-things-about-finland/

And then there is the finnish traditional food, many different options, so good! http://www.visitfinland.com/article/iconic-finnish-foods-of-all-time/ Looks delicious, doesn’t it?!

One more thing I believe everyone links to Finland is the sauna. Ask any Finn, one best thing’s we know in Finland is a warm and bright summernight, calm lake, a cold beer or a soda and a warm sauna. And talking about shyness, for Finns being naked side by side each other in the sauna is a very normal thing, meanwhile for foreigners that might be the weirdest thing ever.

kesäyö

My thoughts about Finnishness

Finnishness is something that I’m proud of. Finns are often seen as a silent and even rude people but underneath there is a loving and polite nation. I like learning about the other cultures and travelling to see the breathtakingly beautiful places around the world but what I really love is coming home.

It is hard to tell people abroad what is Finnishness. You have to travel to Finland to see and feel it yourself. But there is something I can tell you about us and Finland.

Nature and climate

When I think Finland, the first thing that pop up to my mind is nature. Obviously. Nature here is just so beautiful. Finns like to go out and enjoy the nature. In summer we swim in thousands of our lakes and pick berries and in winter time we ski to ice fishing.

Finland is a country that should be seen around a year. Seasons stand out here in an extraordinary way. The temperature varies from the summer + 35 degrees celsius to winter – 40 degrees. Myself I love Finnish summer but unfortunately it’s quite short if you compare it to the cold and dark winter. So if you travel to Finland, make sure you have enough clothes with you but pack also pair of shorts in case of warm days. And don’t forget to take an umbrella, there is about 200 rainy days per a year!

Kuvat marian koneelta 538Kuvat marian koneelta 010

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food

What comes to food, Finns are extremely practical. On weekdays we like to cook a huge amount of food and eat it fast after work. If you want to cook for a Finn for example a macaroni casserole is often a good idea. Except if your  dinner date is a vegetarian which is quite common nowadays in Finland also.

But of course we can enjoy too. If you want to taste some Finnish goodies, I would recommend to try chocolate and especially Fazer Milk Chocolate. Another very traditional delicious dessert is a blueberry pie. What could be more Finnish than dress up a wind suit, go to a forest pick some berries and bake a pie (and of course go to sauna after eating).

fazermustikkapiirakka

 

Holidays

Finnish loves holidays. Particularly Christmas and Midsummer have a special place in our hearts.  In every year we want to eat a Christmas ham and see the white snow  covering the ground. Unfortunately, we often get just the first one and the snow comes in January. In Midsummer you can see how the cities settle down while people pack their goods and travel to their summer cottages to celebrate the midnight sun. Traditionally people gather to watch a Midsummer bonfire.

joulukuusijuhannuskuva

Sauna

At the end, you can’t tell about Finland without telling about sauna. Okay to be honest, not even all Finns like to have a sauna but still that is one of the most tradtional thing in Finland. I advise even to try it. If possible, the best sauna experience is in a wood-headed sauna by the lake. But if that is not at hand, an electric sauna in an apartment building is also a good option. Just make sure that you share that experience with a Finn and have a good time!

sauna