Tag Archives: winter

Finnishness Through My Lens

The People

I’m always impressed by the honesty and kindness of Finnish people. I still remembered the first day I came to Finland which was three years ago. Arrived alone at the airport in Joensuu, I did not know what to do next after picking up my luggage. I just stood, looked around and found very few people at the airport. I had to ask for help from the airport supervisor to call for a taxi. He was willing to lend me his phone and assisted me with putting my stuff into the car. When I reached my place, I met my flatmate who was also a Fin. She was friendly and always tried to create the warm atmosphere to welcome me as a newcomer. We were talking a lot about our own cultures and why we decided to stay in this city. To be honest, on my first day in Finland, I felt homesick a little bit in the first place, but then I felt warm after meeting the local people who were always hospitable towards the visitors. Another thing to mention is what I learned from my university. I attended a course which was called “Intercultural Communication”. My Finnish teacher said that a Fin was very honest and straight. If they complimented someone on something, they really meant it. On the other hand, if they were not satisfied with anything, they might show their expression on their face or tried not to talk about it. And I love this character of the Finnish as I thought, although sometimes it might be frank, I still preferred what would be real, coming from the bottom of the heart. Moreover, when I moved to Tampere from Joensuu, I got help from a Finnish old lady on my first day to TAMK. At that time, I did not acknowledge about the bus schedule system in Tampere so I was lost. Luckily, the old lady was enthusiastic to help me although she only spoke Finnish. She was supposed to get off to her place, but she still stayed with me until the end of the trip. When we got off the bus number 3 to catch another bus to TAMK, she held my hand and said in Finnish. I knew some Finnish and said “Kiitos paljon” to her. I just felt like I was her niece and taken care by a grandmother. I felt grateful to receive help from the local people in Finland.

The Winter

There is a joke on Facebook, “When months in Finland are different to months elsewhere”.

Source: Very Finnish Problem – Facebook

It means that the winter in Finland lasts for months, more than six months. Everything will be covered by the white snow and the darkness will dominate the whole thing for such a long time when it comes to winter. To be honest, I get depressed from time to time because of the coldness and silence. However, I still know how to enjoy the winter here. If it’s cold, I’ll go to sauna to warm myself up. Sauna is part of Finnish culture and Finland is the homeland of sauna. I love the heat, sitting by the heated stone in one corner and pouring the water down the stone. I don’t know if anyone has tried this before. It’s kind of going to the winter lake, dimming oneself into it and then go for a sauna and just take turn like that. If you stay in Finland, you should definitely try that once. 

Joensuu Polar Bear – Source: Joensuun Jääkarhut

Besides, another winter activity I love most is sledging. At first, I was very scared, but after that I got used to it and tried doing it many times. I also take an interest in walking on the frozen lake although I am afraid that this activity might be dangerous. I feel like I have a superpower to step on the water. I find it interesting to walk on the lake because it will save time to go from place to another.

Sledging in winter – Source: Google

The Landscape

Finland is considered to be the land of thousand lakes. Everywhere I go, I always see lakes. I never row a boat on the lake, but only stand on the bridge and look at the surroundings, especially in summer. The atmosphere is fresh, I can smell the lake and the trees.

Pyhäselkä in summer – Source: Taken by me

The view is bright with the sunlight and blue sky, but in winter, the lake will be covered with white snow.

Pyhäselkä in winter – Source: Taken by me

In autumn, I love the yellow leaves falling down from the trees. It looks romantic. Yes, it is indeed. I also want to take a rest at the lake again to enjoy watching the breathtaking view again. I can see that the lake view is quite typical in Finland. It is different from other places that I have ever been to. I find it peaceful and colorful with blue and green. It gives a relaxing atmosphere whenever I feel depressed.

Autumn trees – Source: Taken by me

 

What is it like to be a Finn?

Finland is a small country with big opportunities. We have four beautiful seasons, outstanding pure nature and a society that takes care of its members. Like all countries, Finland has its issues, but I highly believe that they are been seeing smaller when putting in to perspective. This is one reason why people should explore the world and its differences; it makes you see your home country in a whole new light. In this case –  very positively.

Finland has some things that no other country can offer to a Finn, such as sauna and the outstanding nature that gives us energy and pure oxygen to breathe. We have climate that provides us with four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter. Every Finn waits for the Finnish summer through all of the other seasons and just wishes it is a warm one. I guess that’s the beauty of it – you never know how it’s going to be, but you know it’s coming.

Personally I love all the four seasons and each one has its own good sides. Spring is the time when everything comes back to life and the nature starts to really show its beauty. Finnish summer is amazing with all its pure lakes to swim in, grilled food and cottage life. It is a time when you can explore different cities in Finland and feel like a tourist. Fall is stunning with all its colors and fallen leaves. The weather is crispy and this is a time of the year when usually something new starts. Finnish winter is like no other – endless possibilities for activities, breathtaking views and a perfect season for the Finnish privilige – the sauna. Nothing beats the combination of cross-country skiing followed by sauna on a crispy winter day.

 

Finland is a great place to live in. When travelling, you will see that not many countries take care of their members the way Finland does. Our country offers same options for everyone, regardless of the background. We have a free education which is utopia for most of the people. So let’s appreciate our beautiful home country and all the things it offers to us.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. That is how Andy Williams describes Christmas in his song released in 1963.

Finland is located in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter is the longest season in Lapland. It begins in the end of october and ends in May. In southern Finland winter lasts for about four months. After a long, cold and dark fall first snow turns Finland into winter wonderland. Well, sometimes into a wet and slushy wonderland too. Days are very short and in Lapland sun doesn’t rise in three months. Temperatures varies from +5 celsius to -35 celsius. Winter is also the best season to see Northern Lights.

Finland’s Independence Day and Christmas holidays will give a break from work and studies. It’s a good time to celebrate, enjoy of the beautiful nature and eat well. Additionally students have a winter holiday in February so they can enjoy winter weather and winter sports. In winter you can enjoy activities like ice-skating, cross country skiing and downhill skiing. Thousands of lakes in Finland will be frozen in winter. You can go walking, skiing, ice-skating, ice fishing or even drive a car on ice. The bravest will go swimming in an ice hole. Ice will be melting in midsummer in the Northern part of Finland. Or you can be at home in front of a fireplace enjoying a hot drink wearing the coziest clothes and woolen stocks.

Finland’s Independence Day is a national public holiday held on 6th of December. Many festivities are being kept all around Finland. In the evening the Presidential Independence Day reception is being broadcasted from the Presidential Palace. Independence day is all about respecting veterans and being grateful for our beautiful country.

As we all know Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi, Finland. Christmas Eve is being celebrated on 24th of December. It includes eating lots of traditional Christmas foods and sparing time with family. Santa Claus delivers gifts in Christmas Eve. Many Finnish people goes to church and visits graveyards.

When I think of Finland I can see a beautiful landscape of snowy nature. To me, winter is the best season to enjoy Finnish nature and culture.

 

The beautiful four seasons

For me what I find most beautiful about Finland is the nature and the constantly changing seasons. I think it’s awesome to live in country with full four seasons and see the changes the seasons have in the nature.  As a Finn I live constantly seeing the seasons change and how the season effect the nature. I think it’s nice that so many cities in Finland have threes in the city. It’s nice because then you can easier follow the change of the seasons.

Because it’s spring right now I think it just right to start with admiring how beautiful spring is in Finland. Spring starts with a little bit of bad weather but I’m always clad that the snow melts away. It’s always lovely to see the plants start to thrive and we can finally start to leave our winter clothes to the closet. We celebrate Easter in spring. I personally think that Finnish Easter celebration is fun for children. When spring is coming to an end the threes are full of green leaves and we are finally ready for the summer and summer vacations.

Finnish summer might not be the warmest but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the summer. Even when our summer might me little too cold and rainy we still enjoy it. In Finland many families have summer cottages near a lake. If a family doesn’t have their own cottage they might rent one for brief time because it’s part of Finnish summer. It is almost a tradition to go to a summer cottage for Juhannus. The other Juhannus tradition is to go to a music festival. Music festivals are also a big part of our summer. There is so many that I think almost every music genre has their own music festival in Finland. Finnish summer is not about the warmest weather it’s about the ability to enjoy the even a slightly warmer weather. And of course, the lovely colorful nature.

When you get bored of the warm and sunny weather finally comes the fall. Leaves start to fall and it’s starting to get colder and it’s going to rain but not too much. When all the leaves have fallen you just know or hope that it’s going to start snowing soon. I think the fall weather is the best weather for jogging and running. It is not too hot and not too cold. During fall you are just waiting for winter.

Even though winter is cold in summer. Everyone waits for it. Almost everyone has that one winter sport they do. During winter there is so many different sports you can do. For children I think winter is a wonderful time of the year because it’s so fun to play in the snow. Not everyone likes winter but everyone wants to have snow during Christmas. When we don’t have snow during Christmas that doesn’t stop us from having a great Christmas. I love to spend Christmas with my family and it’s our tradition to spend our Christmas with family. I think this is almost every family’s tradition in Finland.

At the end of winter everybody is already waiting for spring and summer.  But when summer end everybody is already waiting for winter and Christmas. I think this is the most beautiful part in Finland, the four seasons and how our lives revolve around the four seasons. I don’t think I could live in a country where there is constantly warm. I want to experience all  the four seasons and admire their beauty and in Finland I can do that.

 

My home country, Finland

I think Finland is a very good place to live. Maybe it is because I am used to live there, but I also think it is great how everything works here. For example we have a high quality of education.

Even though the world is getting crazier every day, I feel Finland is quite safety and peaceful place to live. We don’t have massive earthquakes or some other natural catastrophes here.

We have a beautiful nature there, which is one of the most important things for me here. Finland is a land of thousand lakes and forests. I live now almost in the middle of the city, but I can still see trees and plants on my window.

Climate here is a very  variable. In winter we usually have snow on the ground and almost minus twenty degrees. In spring, summer and autumn it might be hot weather, or rain or snowing or anything at all.

Last but not least, I would like to also say few things about people who live there. Finnish people are often called shy and quiet. We don’t talk with strangers on the bus stop or sit next to someone you don’t know in the bus, if there are any free places left.  I am Finnish so I do those things for myself too, because it is maybe part of our culture and behavior. Silence doesn’t mean that someone is rude, of course we speak if someone ask something. In my opinion, that is not a bad thing, because we have some other important features like honesty and punctilious.

-Maria

Winter sport in Finland

 

Ski

Finns are a winter sports people. Cross-country skiing is very popular. Ski trails to be found in Finland all over the country. This opportunity is excellent for a townie, as they can only pack the skis and rods to the car’s trunk, jump on the driveway and drive to the nearest landing location. They are easily found, for example, by the services provided by local authorities.
Ski trails are traditionally the knife blades that practice summertime running. The length of the loops varies, so the beginner and the more experienced knuckler can be found to be a suitable alternative. The municipalities run routes on the lorries, so the conditions are okay with a very fast timetable right after the snow comes down. Many enjoy the most from skiing in a tranquil environment where you can go in peace without someone receiving or interfering with skiing. Good places for such a situation can be found in rural areas or elsewhere in the sparsely populated area.

Ice hockey

Ice hockey is very popular sports type. Ice hockey and its follow-up is a multi-Finnish winter hobby. The favorite team is closely watched. As the Finnish national team plays, the restrained Finns will be excited, especially if their success comes.

Downhill skiing

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are also very popular in Finland. In Lapland is many ski resorts. Southern Finland is also ski slopes, but they are shorter than in Lapland.

Skate

Nowadays, when there is not so much snow in the southern Finland in winter, skating has become more common. You can skate on the track or go farther to the lake to skate. Its very fun and fast.

Finnish nature

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Finland is the beautiful nature we have. In Finland we have all four seasons summer, autumn, winter and spring. Summers aren’t that warm here in Finland. During the summer Finns visit their summer cottages, barbeques and enjoy life. In Finland we have so called “yötön yö” which means that sun doesn’t set at all.

Autumn is very beautiful in Finland. Trees turn to red and yellow. It is time to go mushrooming and picking up apples. Autumn is also perfect time to go hikinng.

In Finland we get lots of snow during the winter (at least in the north). Winter is cold and dark. In wintertime we have so called “kaamos” which means that sun doesn’t rise at all. It is the opposite to the “yötön yö” that we have in the summer. We have a lot of winter activities such as skiing, ice-hockey, snowboarding and etc. One very Finnish thing to do in the winter is to go swimming into the frozen lake/river. Finns drill hole into the ice and dips in. It is common to go to sauna to warm up afterwards.

When the spring comes people are very happy, because cold and dark winter is behind us and the summer is coming!

Mökkeily: The Finnish cottage culture

For Finns it’s normal that almost every family owns a cottage on a lake. The cabin can be ether modern with all the luxuries or extremely primitive with no electricity or running water. Or something between those. What combines all these cottages is that they are all places for relaxation and peace of mind.

The relaxation can mean many things. In summer it is things like swimming, playing games, walking in forest, rowing, barbecue or fishing but also yard working such as chopping wood, raking leaves, cleaning, doing maintenance work. In winter the favorites are skiing, skating, toboccan sliding, snowscootering, but also plowing snow. Everyone from children to old people spend time outside regardless of the temperature that can sometimes be as low as -25 °C and even lower in northern Finland.

Oh, and it’s not a cabin at all if there is no sauna. Period. Sauna is often used every evening while staying at the cottage. Finns usually go to sauna naked with close friends or family, although in most cases grown-ups take turns by gender. It is usually a sign of true friendship that you share a sauna together, where you can’t have anything to hide or any things with you that would make you somehow unequal with the other person that shares the space. Especially in summer if the löyly* is starting to feel too hot, we run and jump naked to the lake. Some people like to swim at winter too and a hole is drilled to the ice for it.

A modern cottage in Hauho with all the unnecessary luxuries like electricity and running water.

* Löyly does not only mean the water that is yet to be thrown to the sauna stove, but also the air temperature, moisture, intensity, spirit and even the whole character of the sauna experience. When a sauna is excellent, you can say something like “you get a good löyly there”.

 

Winter and Christmas – Two things I love the most

I love Finnish winter and especially Christmas. In our family Christmas is the biggest and most awaited time of the year because then our whole family meets together to eat and drink. We also exchange gifts on Christmas Eve and even begin buying presents for the year after in January. Yeah, that’s really crazy but our family loves to buy and especially make the presents by themselves. My granny knits socks,my mum is always baking, my little sister paints or draws something and I usually make some decoration like candles, wreaths or decoration lights.

I also love the Finnish winter but I live in the South so there isn’t the kind of winter that I like – snow, snow and much more snow. That’s why I go to Lapland almost every year with my family or friends. Our family love skiing, skating, snowboarding and downhill skiing.

       

Lapland is the largest and northernmost region of Finland. Although Lapland is the largest region in Finland, only 3.4% of Finland’s population lives there. The very first snowflakes fall to the ground in late August or early September over the higher peaks and the winter is long, approximately seven months. The coldest temperatures in winter vary from -35°C to -45°C in Lapland but if you wear your thickest winter jacket and beanie you will survive 😉

 

 

The darkness and survival

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.