Tag Archives: sisu

Moi – a touch of Finnishness

When I first got to Finland, I was amazed by the gorgeous scenery and how Finnish culture closely intertwines with the nature. The country boasts having the highest number of lakes in the world, which amounts to 187,888 official ones, and Finns like to gather at their cottages by the water to enjoy their holidays with quietness and relaxation.

In the winter when everything freezes over, a greatly enjoyed traditional activity is called “avanto”, which can be translated as “hole in the ice”, since Finns swim in a hole in a frozen lake, and it is usually paired with the other national love: sauna. Whether it’s sauna or ice bathing, it shows that Finns always take it to extremes and from that they have trained themselves to be strong, hardy, resilient and determined or “sisu” – the untranslatable concept proudly used by Finns to describe themselves.

There is also a significant number of forests in Finland and Finns also enjoy spending their time there, the activities mainly consist of walking, running, berry or mushroom picking. They even have a law called “jokamiehenoikeus” or “everyman’s right” that ensures everyone can wander around forests.

Another interesting fact about Finnish culture is that it is home to many eccentric competitions such as swamp soccer world championships, berry picking world championships, mobile phone throwing world championships and wife carrying world championships.

Additionally, Finland is where Moomin, Angry Birds and Nokia came from. Its northern city Lapland is also known as home of Santa Claus.

Finnishness in a nutshell

When talking about Finland and Finnishness people always bring up the beautiful nature or the dark and cold winter. Another topic of discussion is the nature of Finnish people; unsocial, stubborn and modest. To me, however, Finnishness is a lot more. Finnishness is cottage life, sauna and most importantly, good food.

You can’t talk about Finnish culture without mentioning cuisine. For me the most important things in Finnish cuisine are salty liquorice, coffee and rye bread. Salty liquorice, or salmiakki, is a Finnish treat which is hard to find anywhere else in the world. Many Finnish people say salmiakki is the first thing they miss about Finland when they travel abroad. Finns are the people with the highest consumption of coffee in the world. It is not unusual to start your life as a coffee drinker in your youth. Here in Finland rye bread is the most common type of bread. Traditional rye bread is a dark, sour bread which can also be found dried.
Finnish culture has a lot of traditional foods which can’t stay mentioned; Karelian pie, Karelian hot pot, and traditional Finnish Easter dessert made from rye flour, called mämmi. For me, these traditional foods bring back memories of my childhood. 
Finns don’t always go to the nearest supermarket to get their food, because our beautiful nature provides us with berries and mushrooms, for example. Some Finns even have their own small fields in their backyard, where they grow their own potatoes, carrots, beetroots and other veggies.

 

There is no Finnishness without sauna culture. The first thing us Finns mention to foreigners is how great the Finnish sauna is. Sauna is the place where even the most unsocial Finn may open up, but even then, it’s not certain. Sauna is also the place where you can show your guts, so called “Sisu”, when you compete who can withstand the most heat the longest. When you have burned your skin off in the scorching sauna, it is typical to take a cooling dip in the cold lake or even roll in the snow, when there’s no water nearby.

A Finnish mindset

SISU

Having sisu means that someone is unyielding and determined. He/she has endurance and resilience. That’s what the Finns are known for and very proud of. Sisu can be connected with sports. Especially cross-country skiing and ski jump where Finns have succeeded.

PERSONAL SPACE

Finnish people need their own personal space. It’s not okay to go and hug or kiss a stranger or even an acquaintance. I guess almost everyone is familiar with a picture from a Finnish bus stop where people are standing a meter from each other just because they need their own space. They might do that even if it’s raining and everyone won’t fit under the shelter. Or perhaps it’s just a bit exaggerated.

SILENCE

Finnish people don’t mind being silent. Sometimes it’s even desirable. When you’re driving a car in a bright summer night and listening good songs. Or when you’re enjoying the heat of the sauna. You seldom hear strangers talking to each other in an elevator or in a bus. First foreigners might find this behavior strange and disturbing but during time they might start to enjoy it. Enjoy those lovely moments that doesn’t need to filled with small talk.

 

Pictures: http://finnishnightmares.blogspot.fi/

We are all humans

What is Finnishness?

In my opinion there is not one correct answer to that question.  Basically, you can’t just say that someone is Finnish because she/he acts in a certain way. It is quite random in which culture you were born and nationality is just a tiny part of your personality, it doesn’t specify what kind of person you are. But people seem to love categorizing and that is the reason why we have all these stereotypes.

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Now it is time to figure out how Finnish you are. The test is based on common stereotypes of what Finnishness is. You get one point for every claim that fits in you.

 

  1. Your best and only coping mechanism is drinking. No matter how small or big your problem is, the best solution is to drink yourself into oblivion. Next day you may have a major headache but the problem is forgotten!

 

  1. You hate Swedes and Russians. You don’t really know why, but does it even matter?

 

  1. You don’t want to meet new people (unless you are drunk). It is awful. Especially you don’t want to get to know people from different cultures. People are dreadful anyway, so why even bother…

 

  1. You are shy, socially awkward and you hate being centre of attention (unless you are drunk). So it is better just to sit still and quiet somewhere in shady corner and try not to breathe so loud.

 

  1. You have sisu (sisu can be translated as gut or persistence). At least you think you have. Sometimes the line between stubbornness/foolishness and sisu can be a little flickering. Some may say that doing same thing in same way over and over again without succeeding in it, is ludicrous, but you say it is sisu.

 

  1. You love sauna. There is nothing as awesome in entire world as sitting naked in the small, hot room and drinking ice cold beer (or Koskenkorva, or Jaloviina). The best thing ever!

 

  1. All the Finns are rude, unpolite and cranky. Someone you don’t know asks if you know where is the library, you rapidly turn around and walk away. Old lady asks you to help her cross the road, you won’t. There is a fight in the street, someone should call 112, you don’t have time for that. People really should just mind their own businesses!

 

  1. You don’t laugh much. Why should you? There is no valid reason to laugh (unless you are drunk) and furthermore it gives you wrinkles.

 

  1. You have quite special sense of humor. You think you are funny while others think that you are just weird.

 

  1. You can’t talk about feelings. You don’t want to talk about your own feelings and you definitely don’t want to hear someone else’s feelings. It is better to never ever open up (unless you are really, really, really drunk).

 

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Well, I got one point (claim nro 9) although I was born in Finland and I have lived here my whole life. In my experience Finnishness can be whatever you want it to be. It can be openness, solitude, happiness, melancholy, shyness, bravery etc. There is no certain personality or specific behavior that determines Finnishness.  After all, we are all humans, so should we rather ask what is humanity?

 

Ps. How many points did you get? 😉

 


 

Small cities and big forests

Finland, population of 5,5 million people is sparsely populated and when ever talking to foreign people you usually get astounded looks on their faces and a sentence “oh, so the whole country has less people in it than there is in my home town”. Our big cities are microscopic compared to some of the world’s metropolises and we, as a nation, haven’t been living in the cities, where all the comKuvalähde: http://www.rantapallo.fi/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Tampere-Nasinneula-Flickr-Tuomo-Lindfors.jpgmodities are close, for long.

Most of the population lived in the countryside still in the 1950’s and I think that it has had an affect in our culture and in our identities. We still have a good sense what is living in the countryside facing all the hardships in that way of living and not having everything in your access all the time. Maybe that’s why we have been raised to respect what we have and stay humble.

We also call common sense “maalaisjärki”, which directly translates to “country/rural sense”. That tells a lot about the appreciation for the countryside, basic reasoning and doing things yourself.kuvalähde: https://kasteluetaisyydella.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/p1040678.jpg

We also respect the nature a lot. Many of the Finns own a summer cottage by a lake where you can go and relax and enjoy the nature. And because our towns and cities are reasonably small, you are able to go to the nature basically in minutes. It doesn’t matter where you are, in a city center or at your home, there’s always lakes, rivers and forests close by which you can enjoy of.

I think these reasons, among other things, have molded us what we are as a nation and given us common sense and “sisu”, which we appreciate in ourselves. We are a rational nation with a will to work hard and we won’t give up even facing hardship.

This is what I’ve learned to appreciate in Finland and in Finnish culture and I can be proud of my Finnishness in all of the metropolises of the world.

kuvalähde: http://static-sls.smf.aws.sanomacloud.net/kodinkuvalehti.fi/s3fs-public/styles/medium_main_image/public/main_media/1381225038_original_forest_istock.jpg?itok=N6KbHHxn

Finished with Finnish behavior?

I have thought about Finnishness a lot. I find our culture and behavior peculiar and interesting: On the other hand I sometimes feel very annoyed with our country and the way we act but on the other hand I’m extremely proud of being born in the great North and I’m always eager to have a chat about Finland.

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Okey so let’s dig in to my thoughts. These are not facts or proved knowledge. Only my experiences during these past 21 years of wandering around the globe.

People from Finland are cold. You can blame the weather and our inheritance for our behavior, but it’s a cold hard fact (see what I did there? 😀 ) that we Finns are as warm as the summer we have. We usually avoid unnecessary touching and showing affection.

I find it frustrating that in our country you have to give handshakes – not only to new acquaintances but sometimes you have to share this weird habit with relatives or even with some friends. I never thought  handshaking is something natural to human beings and it always feels a bit forced – and the worst part is that it only makes you feel uncomfortable and the situation itself might become even more awkward. Unlike a kiss or a hug might release some tension and create a connection. But you know what’s even more awkward than a lousy handshake? No handshake whatsoever. Sometimes I find myself stuck to a situation where the other person doesn’t seem too interested in meeting you and even the small effort of touching the other person’s hand seems like too much to do.

But when you finally do get to know a Finnish person (even though the part where you meet and get to know to a Finn might be hard)  you’d got yourself a life-long friend. Finnish people are so loyal and honest and they pretty much stick around, no matter what’s the situation.

sisu

Another thing you need to know about Finns is that we are very persistent. We even have a very special word to describe the typical Finnish persistence, sisu. It means being single-minded and relentless. Quitting is something that Finns find unsettling and the job has to be done almost perfectly. This quality is good and bad at the same time: Even I can see this feature in myself even though I’m not the most typical Finn to say the least. I basically never give up and maybe some times it would be better to just say “no” than force yourself to do something unpleasant.

And most importantly. The weather. It’s a really big deal to us. You’d think that we are fine with every type of weather but the reality is actually the exact opposite. We have a tendency to complain about the weather a lot. During summer is either too hot or too rainy. During winter it’s either too warm or too cold. When it’s spring, it’s snowing. And when it’s autumn, it’s dark. This is our circle of life and we should all appreciate it more. When you think about it.. not many countries have that much variety when it comes to weather….

loska

I’m just kidding… The sleet is awful.

Okey, I just realized my list is not too positive. But you should all know Finland is still the greatest country to live in and there’s not enough slush in the world to change my opinion about it.  Imagine, we have

  • opintotuki aka study grants
  • santa claus
  • reindeer
  • mustamakkara aka the black sausage
  • summer houses
  • forests
  • thousands of lakes
  • ice-fishing
  • ice-swimming
  • blonde guys and girls
  • blue eyes
  • rye bread
  • basically no corruption
  • snowmen
  • Finnish Christmas
  • sauna
  • Finnish summer and never ending sunlight
  • oats
  • Karelian pasty
  • one of the best education systems in the whole wide world
  • one of the happiest people in the world!!!! 🙂

sauna

Yes, we are amazing. Keep up the good work Finns!

-Erika

My Finland

What does Finland and being a Finn mean to me? The answer is – if I dare say – something that a lot of Finns could very well relate to: sauna, sisu, lakes and rivers, lots of trees, silence, and space. A Finns favourite scenery often has water in it, be it a lake, a river or the sea and perhaps some trees or some other kind of vegetation. This isn’t surprising since Finland is often called The Land of a Thousand lakes. It does describe Finland well because if you’ve ever driven through Finland during summer, all you can see is blue lakes, rivers and green forests and fields passing by.

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As lakes are everywhere, so are the summer cottages too. To me and a lot of Finns, retreating to the cottage during summer is a very important thing. The peace and quiet and the simple joys that the of the cottage offers is what makes them so attractive to Finns. Relaxing at the lakeside boating, fishing, barbecuing and most importantly going to the sauna and swimming are a must.

Sauna has been an important part of the Finnish culture for hundreds of years. It has been a place for bathing and curing different illnesses, but also a place where children were born and where the corpses of the deceased were taken before the funeral. Nowadays practically all houses and many flats have a sauna of their own and it is common practice to use it at least once a week.

heidin kuvia 039

I’m originally from Rovaniemi, and after moving to Tampere I have come to really appreciate the two extremes that especially Lapland can offer. Snowy, cold and dark winters and the warm, green summers with the sun shining the whole night through. The difference in the light in the summer is very noticeably compared to Tampere even though Rovaniemi is in the southern part or Lapland.

In this blog a lot of people have talked about the Finnish people and our nature which is often silent, sometimes even a bit awkward, shy and always very straight to the point. Maybe because of the harshness of the the environment we have had to live in we have had to develop a strong mentality of perseverance, sisu. It is an attribute  that has helped us survive in the sometimes tough but beautiful nature surrounding us, but also other kinds of difficult situations in the past and the present. It is an positive attitude I can relate to and hold very dear, and I do think it somehow sums up what Finland and its people are all about.

FINNISHNESS

FINNISHNESS

Finland is an amazing country. I have traveled a lot through my whole life, spent 6 months as an exchange student in USA and backpacked two months in Asia (Thailand and Vietnam). Those experiences have taught me a lot and made me appreciate my home country. I love travelling and getting to know other cultures and people but it feels always good to come back to Finland! Anyway, now is a time for another adventure and this time I’m heading to Slovenia for 4 months!

As I have dug up all the information about Slovenia and their culture it is now (before the take-off) important to think about everything about Finland and Finnish people. Finland is a small country in northern Europe between Sweden and Russia. Even though it is small, it surely isn’t a bad thing. 2017 Finland has been 100 years independent and nowadays Finland is often among the top countries next to other Nordic countries.

Here are some examples where Finland has succeed:

Finland is the most stable country in the world.
The Fund for Peace, Fragile States Index 2016

Finland is the safest country in the world.
World Economic Forum, Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015: Finland

Finland has the best governance in the world.
Legatum Institute, the Legatum Prosperity Index 2016: Finland

Finland has the least organized crime in the world.
World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2016–2017: Organized crime

Finland’s judicial system is the most independent in the world.
World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2016–2017: Judicial independence

Finland has the best press freedom in the world.
Reporters Without Borders, 2016 World Press Freedom Index

Next to Denmark, Finland is the best country in protecting fundamental human rights in the world.
The World Justice Project, Rule of Law Index 2016

Finns’ trust in other people is the second highest in Europe.
Eurostat, Average rating of trust

Finland is the second most gender equal country in the world.
World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Index 2016

Finland has the most human capital in the world.
World Economic Forum, The Human Capital Report: Human Capital Index 2016

Finland is the most literate country in the world
1.W. Miller and M. C. McKenna, World’s Most Literate Nations: Rank Breakdown

Finland is the second best country to be a girl in the world.
Save the Children, Every last girl: Girl’s opportunity index

Mothers’ and children’s well-being in Finland is the second best in the world.
Save the Children, State of the World´s Mothers 2015, 16th annual report

Finns drink most coffee per person in the world.
International Coffee Organization, Coffee Trade Statistics

Finnish adults’ English skills are the fifth best in a comparison of 72 countries.
Education First (EF), The world’s largest ranking of countries by English skills

Finland is the third best travel destination in the world in 2017.
Lonely Planet, Best in Travel 2017: Top Countries

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Well enough of those statics now, I’ll now tell more about Finnish people and their habits. Finnish people are known for 3 S-letters. Sisu, sauna and Sibelius.
SISU

To the Finnish people, sisu has a mystical, almost magical meaning. It is a Finnish word which loosely means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. Sisu is the quality that lets Finns to pick themselves up, move on, and learn something from previous failures.

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SAUNA

Sauna plays a big part in Finnish culture. It is estimated that there are two million saunas in Finland, for a population of 5.3 million. It is little room heated to almost 100 Cº, where you will sit, naked, with others for a while and sweat. Almost every household has a sauna and there is also many public ones. When you go to sauna in winter time it is common to go outside  and jump (still naked) through a small hole in the ice on a lake, the sea or whatever and refresh yourselves in the freezing water – or roll in the snow instead.

 

Here is a video about Avanto= Hole in the ice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQJ4LGOMAVs

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  JEAN SIBELIUS

Sibelius is a Finnish composer (Finland’s pride and joy, for good reason) who was born in Hämeenlinna in the 8 of December in 1865 and died the 20 of September in 1957 in Järvenpää. He is the most known and appreciated Finnish composer of all time. His music has had a great impact in Finnish culture. He did 7 symphonies, 150 piano compositions, 60 orchestral work, an opera, over 130 songs and a lot more! His most famous compositions are Finlandia and Karelia suite.

Here you can listen the song called Finlandia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5zg_af9b8c

 

220px-Jean_Sibelius_1939

 

FINNISH NATURE

 The land of lakes and forests.

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apital city Helsinki.