Let me tell you a little about the cycle of Finnish mood. I am writing this in July, which is the peak of Finnish mental happiness. The dark, long period of coldness and grayness is contrasted with the most beautiful couple of months. Like a lover returning to you from the darkness you once thought had digested her/him. The peak is short but sweet, followed by a positively melancholic autumn which slowly dips you back into the cycle of seasons. Accompanied by a warm, loving embrace telling you that the good times will come again but until then you must find the beauty from places where it´s rarely searched, but where it has learned to survive the harsh environment.
The road to true ecstasy is hard and torturous. We call this torturous period the “kaamos aika”, aka the polar night, aka a period of darkness north of the Arctic Circle when the sun does not rise over the horizon. It is still enough to feel the effect if you are just close to the arctic circle. There is a place in southern Finland that got a majestic two hours of sun light in a period of three months from December to February in the winter of 2014. It is within these kind of periods that one might suffer from “kaamosmasennus”, aka winter depression.
There are ways to treat the “kaamosmasennus” but the best one is just to get the hell out of here. If you however don´t have the financial situation to balance this out, you might want to try something out of the ordinary. Embrace that beast of darkness and dig a hole through that frozen lake and go for a swim! I´m not even joking. In a situation like this it is very nice to have a sauna near by to relax your tortured soul. It is called avantouinti (winter swimming). It feels really good to take your body through those extreme temperatures, and when your body feels good your mind feels good. There are places in Finland where people go to do this, if not every day then every week. It buzzes you up and makes you feel alive and relaxed both at the same time. If you are really lucky you might escape into the finish wilderness and heat up a mökki (cottage) which usually includes a sauna by a lake. You will feel super authentic as you heat up the sauna, make a hole in the ice with a chainsaw, get naked and dip yourself into the cold lake. Gaze up at the non light polluted starry sky keeping that nice hot sauna in mind. This is something that keeps me going through the sunless season and something that I miss during the sunshine season.
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!
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.