Tag Archives: words

Finns Are Content in Silence

2014-07-18 13.17.00

One of the biggest cultural differences that I have noticed between Finns and rest of the world is that we can be perfectly at ease with silence even though we are in company. I noticed this especially when I lived for a week with a French family in Belfort, when the mother thought something was wrong if we Finns were quiet during the car ride. We had thought it a bit odd instead, that the mother had tried so hard to keep up small-talk — we were perfectly happy with just appreciating the passing scenery.  When we explained this to the French family, they told us that they felt really weird if things were silent, especially if you didn’t know the people very well.  Silence for them, was a mark that something was wrong.

In addition to Finns being a silent bunch, we normally are not that well versed in the art of small-talk. I had a course in the University of Eastern Finland, where our American professor tried to hammer us some basic dos and dont’s in especially the Anglo culture. First of all, the professor told us, Finns are too honest and straightforward. If someone asks us how we are, we genuinely answer how our day has been; usually the ‘how do you do’ is however, just a polite expression.

There is also something else that stayed in my mind from the course: in the Anglo culture there is a habit of saying the person’s name a lot when you are talking with them. I had never noticed before, but we Finns don’t generally do that. For that reason, our professor emphasized to us, that we should really pay attention to people’s names when they are introduced, as it is expected to use them later in the conversation as a sign of respect.

2014-07-18 13.14.24

Apart from being quiet and having to work on our conversation skills, we Finns sure do love our summer cottages. Maybe it’s because we want to escape to spend our sparse summer months somewhere with even less people, maybe it’s because usually the sauna in the cottage is superior to the one at home. When I was younger, most of our summers were spend in the cottage, and though I go there myself much rarely now, my parents still flee there right when the first a bit warmer weekend comes in the spring.

“Finnishness” in a nutcrack

Darkness, depression, winter, booze, quietness.

Unfortunately these words are common in the stereotype of finnish culture. There’s no smoke without a fire but I’m glad to admit that although many of those words do describe Finland, there’s more to finnishness than one would except.

anothersuomi

Here’s some other words that describe us aswell:

Light, honesty, sisu, friendliness, sauna.

We have nightless night, our nation is one of the most honest in the world, we have guts to not give up and keep pushing on, or as we say it “sisu”, people are not that eager to start making small talk, but when doing so, we are friendly and are said to be quite laid back personalities and above all: we have a lot of saunas.

Winter is very dark and we tend to be kind of melancholic at that time of the year.  Fortunately it’s possible to see the wonder of northern lights. Christmas is celebrated with family in most cases followed by New years eve, which is also celebrated with family or friends. So not that bad time of the year after all.

Summertime is the exact opposite of winter. Sun shines more or less around the clock and people are more lively with all the events, warmer weather and festivals not to mention the summer holidays and possibility to enjoy our thousands of lakes and summer cottages.

kesä

All in all finnishness includes enjoying extremely happy/lively seasons and darker seasons when it’s time to calm down a bit. It includes quiet but friendly and honest nation that knows how to relax in a hot room all year around.