When I describe Finnish people to others, I usually just say that we’re quiet or shy. I don’t personally really think that, but compared to other nations we really seem like it. But I think what really defines us more than “quiet” is “honest”. There’s no need for courtesies or small talk: we just say what we have to say and that’s it. It might come across as shy, quiet or reserved but to me it’s all I need. The concept of small talk was so unfamiliar to me that I’ve really had to put my back into learning it! I still struggle with it from time to time. It’s also hard to tell sometimes if a foreign person is qenuinely interested in talking with me or if it’s just small talk. Usually with Finns I don’t have to worry about that, which is relieving. If somebody asks you how you’re doing and you answer with how you actually feel, it’s only normal and even expected.
Even though the way Finnish people speak can be a little short on words, our language is really versatile. It’s wonderful that a lot of Finnish people can speak many different languages beside Finnish, but sometimes I wonder if others have noticed the beauty of their own language. I find constant joy in all the wonderful little phrases and words that have gained their meaning in the older times but which are still used today. Sometimes while talking I realize what the words we use actually mean. For example “marraskuu” means “November”, but what it literally means is “moon of the dead”, but you never really stop to think about it!
To me Finnishness culminates in how our language could bend into so much to best fit what we’re feeling inside and yet we choose to say so little. Only the necessities.
That… And the completely bright nightless nights when you can just sit on a dock watching insects fly over a lake, hear a faint cuckoo from the forest and smell the smoke coming from the chimney of a sauna. That too.
For me Finnishness is a lot about personality. Finnish people need their own personal space and peace, even in public. If you go in to an elevator with other people in Finland, you don`t get much eye contact, because all the other people are staring at their feet, ground, walls or the roof of the elevator. If you accidentally put out words like: “good morning” to a stranger in an elevator with you, you might just get odd looks like you would have escaped from a mental hospital or something. You can also see the need of a personal space in public transport like buses or trams. You can never sit beside a stranger, if there is even one empty pair of seats anywhere on the vehicle, because if you do, you probably get the same kind of look than in the elevator when you open your mouth.
Sauna, beer and sausage
Three words that fits in to any Finns mouth. No matter if its spring, summer, autumn or winter, this holy triangle is close to every Finns heart. Especially in summer, the beer and sausage part takes a big part of a native Finns life, because grilling is the thing you just have to do at summer, no matter if it rains or shines. More than just a few times i`ve grilled under umbrella, but it is worth it, because the sausage tastes even better when you have needed a bit of sisu while cooking it. Being a fanatic fan of ice hockey is also big part of Finnishess. That is why the holy triangle will be emphasized during ice hockey world championship games, and once in a blue moon when Finland makes it in to the finals or even wins the cup, the importance of these things go off the charts. These things walk hand in hand.
I mean I have lived here basically my whole life, but I still wouldnt call my self a Finn. My roots are from Bosnia originally. I’ll base this blogpost off of my own experiences and my own everyday life.
The first thing that comes up to my mind when talking about Finnish people or culture and I’m not even joking but alcohol.
Atleast among students alcohol is seen as a kind of stress reliever. When you’ve got 2 essays and a few difficult tests on the same week it can get pretty stressful, so a student party and a get together with your friends can occasionally help I guess. Also when you’ve worked the traditional 9-5 job the whole week you often find yourself drinking over the weekend with your friends. I’ve been in a couple of situations when deciding not to drink the people around me ask is something wrong, its actually kind of funny.
Some of the many boozes in Finland.
The second thing is sports. Whenever theres news that some Finn or Finns are doing good in some sport in a major tournament it gathers a lot of viewers. I’d say a good example is when a e-sports team called Ence was competing in a CS:GO tournament called Katowice Major. Myself and my friends have not watched any e-sports, but when we heard of this, of course we intented to watch it. The tournament gathered a lot of views from Finland and it was actually exciting to watch. They ended up in 2nd place and they really made a name for themselves. My point with this is that no matter the sport Finnss always gather up and root for their own to win, even though they have not watched the sport, like ever.
The last things come actually as a package almost. Im talking about cottage, sauna and nature. You cant have one without the other. Finlands nature during the summer is just beautiful to look at. Especially in your own cottage when you’ve got your own peace you can just relax and take it easy. Cottages usually at best reside by the seaside but most of them reside on the shore of a lake away from the busy city life.
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!
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.
Finnish are often described quiet and grumpy. It’s probably just because we behave a bit differently in social situations. We don’t have a small talk culture. If you ask a Finnish person how they are doing they will explain you what is actually going on in their life at the moment. In my experience Finnish are very friendly and respectful to others, they just need some time to warm up.
Finnish love their sauna. It’s also a good way to explain the two sides of being a Finnish person. Sometimes you go there to have some peace and quiet and relax and other times you go in with a group of friends or strangers and socialize with people. It’s a part of your day to day life but it’s also an important part of any celebration like Christmas or Midsummer fest. One thing that seems to be a shock to people from other countries is that we go in naked, but to Finnish it’s completely normal. Usually Finnish respect others personal space and don’t go too near to others. However when you go to sauna suddenly everything changes and you find yourself sitting next to a stranger chatting about life.
Endless winter and summer that is too short
I love Finnish summers and I love our white winters (when they are in fact white). But I hate the darkness. It changes everything. During the winters you’re more tired and getting things done is way harder. You could sleep for the hole day. Winter however is really beautiful and when there is snow it isn’t as dark. The best thing to do during winter is going ice skating on a frozen lake or on an ice rink or skiing and then go to a hot sauna after.
During the summers when the light never goes away you feel super energetic and feel like you can do anything. People are happier during the summer. It’s easier to get to know new persons during the summer. But of course part of it is explained by the fact that you are just able to see more people outside because everyone is not inside hiding from the cold. One thing especially that I love about the summers are the endless amounts of festivals going on everywhere in Finland. I feel like my city alone has some festival going on every week of the summer. One festival especially is interesting. The midnight sun film festival that happens in the north of Finland is something quite unique. It’s in the middle of nowhere in a small village. The films are going on 24 hours a day and the sun doesn’t go down for the hole festival. Nothing else happens in the village during the hole year but for one week of June it’s filled with life.
For me the Finnishness means quietness and safety. In Finland we have plenty of land, but we do not have many people living in here and that is why our population density is pretty small compared to many other countries. Quietness and nature both are a big part of Finnishness and these things might be the most common things I would mention when needed to describe Finland and Finnishness. It is so easy to find a place where to be alone and listen to the silence. In Finland I enjoy that here is a lot of forests and lakes. It is quite confusing to think that even in Helsinki you do not need to drive for more than 10 minutes and you will find a forest where to walk and clear your mind. For me especially forests are important because I like to be in the nature and be active. There is nothing more relaxing than running or skiing in the forest and afterwards go into a sauna with ice cold beer and go ice swimming.
Another thing that is important to me is the safety I feel in here. In Finland the crime statistics are quite low, but I do not know is that the only reason why Finland feels safe and even tourists feels safe while they are travelling in here. I am sure that the safety is one of the things which I will miss when living abroad. Here in Finland, I do not need to look back even if I am walking alone at 4 am in the dark streets of Tampere. In Finland it is quite easy to trust people, for example in trains you can easily leave your bags to your seat while you crab a coffee from the restaurant, and you do not have to worry that there are people who is trying to steal your bags.
In my mind there is nothing more Finnish than a sauna. We have over 3 million of them throughout the country and you can find one from everywhere: every a
partment building, family homes, hotels and even our government building has one! The cool thing
about sauna is that once you go in, everybody is equal.
You can be any size , shape, gender or color and all you have to do is get naked and jump up on the bench with the others.
The one thing that always brings the whole Finland together better than anything else is
our national Ice Hockey team, or as we call them “Leijonat”. We have witnessed this
magical phenomenon where every person is the friend of the one next to them,
three times as we have won the World Championship. Every time people storm the streets and marketplaces to celebrate together. And for the official ceremony there are thousands of people becoming one.
Midsummer or “Juhannus” is
one of the only days in the year when Finland completely stops. Cities are empty, there is no traffic or
noise when everybody retreats to the cabins and nature to celebrate with their friends
and family. During Juhannus you enjoy the endless sun, and the warmth (if you are lucky) and just get in peace with yourself.it is my favorite celebration of the year and I’m looking forward for the next one already.