Finns truly appreciate arts and it shows up more and more every day! So that is making me really happy! We want to be something more than stereotypical shy people. We have so many young people who have passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and ideas for the world to share! We want to change the stereotypes of Finnish people. We are so much more than you think we are. (But still we are Finns so don’t expect too much or we get uncomfortable.)
You would be amazed how talented people you can find in Finland. Today’s Finnish music is more vivid than ever. We have a lot of new young artists and a lot of humble underground music bands. There is music for everyone at the moment and in big cities like Tampere, Turku and Helsinki there is gigs every week! I think the best thing is to see a lot of people of different ages on those gigs enjoying music together. We also have a lot of amateur theatre activities and free artists. We are humble people so we don’t make a big number of ourselves but nowadays there is new types of possibilities to show our skills. Example we have a large scale of festivals in summer such as Flow Festival which is an urban music and arts festival in Helsinki and Ruisrock which is the second oldest rock festival in Europe and it is awesome how big number ART is there today!
Finns take really good care of nature. I have lived most of my life in a middle of nowhere. I have grown playing outside in forests building a castle and playing a Tarzan etc. Nature means everything to Finns. I love to go out to the forest to breathe and think. It doesn’t matter what town you are in, you can always find forest near you. To me Finland is a place where you can enjoy nature whenever.
When I got older I moved to a big city to study and I have grown to love city life almost as much as I love being alone in forest and near the sea. In Finland city life is lively and most of the time people seem to be on a hurry. (We are hardworking people.) Luckily, we have the best solution for urgency. We have parks all over the town where your mind can calm down for a moment. It works the same way as a hug works for an angry child.
Our culture is more like a feeling. Example we have a lots of bad tasting tradition foods but the taste doesn’t matter because it means something to us. You know, it is something more than just a bowl of mämmi. It’s OUR mämmi. (I’m sorry if you like mämmi.) Just like our Christmas songs are terribly sad but we still want to listen the songs every year or it doesn’t feel like Christmas. And this is important! If someone from Finland achieve something internationally it is a moment of victory for all of us and then you will find us going crazy at TORI (market). And if you ever dear to insult our culture WE will secretly hate you together.
To get you to the mood: put this track on, imagine yourself on a finnish summer cottage on a lakeside and continue reading.
As a sport in Finland we carry our wives.
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.
The 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.
In Finland you have this rare thing called ’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.
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.
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.
So here was a quick glance at Finnishness and what it means to be a Finn. Hope you enjoyed!