Finnishness, Finnish cultural values and attitudes

Go, Winter, Nature, Snow, Active, Dog, Group, Outside
This picture is form pixabay but it could be of me, my cousins and their dog from last week.

I  am 24- year old girl who has spent 22 years of my life in Finland. When I was 17, I lived one year in the USA and when I was 20, I spent one year in Italy. I used to think grass was greener in those places, but luckily I was very wrong !

To me Finnishess put in three words sounds something like this:
peace, purity & home made carelian pies.

Finnish culture in my opinion consists of independence and freedom, mutual respect for each other and winter sports. It also consists of nightless nights, swimming in the clearest lakes and going to sauna in the summer. It consists of the strong cold freeze and northern light spotting in mid- January. Hands and cheeks are frozen and we complain about it, but we secretly like it.

In my opinion, we are  people who have really well understood the magnificence of our nature. We just sometimes forget that our time has a limit here.  We are people who respect other people so much,  that we rarely want to bother their morning walk by saying “good morning”,  they might get uncomfortable or worse, we might, if they don’t answer… Sometimes we have the courage to do it and it’s actually pretty exciting! We love spending evenings by the fireplace while mosquitoes suck the living – out of us and again we complain, but secretly like it because it’s so familiar to us. But we do need to have the mosquito spray available, always. The only problem is, that sometimes we get stuck on trying to find people to share everything with and rarely realize that we have those people already – at least some of the most important ones!!

Lake, Platform, Wooden Platform, Woman, Resting
Photo from pixabay

We, Finnish people, sometimes have  a tendency to think in such ways that are pretty self destructive. It might be because of stress or pressure from anywhere – social media, future or the whole society. Or because of the difficulty to express feelings as we are taught to be quite independent and just suck it up.  But we might do it anyways, in the end we live in a country where the sunlight is quite limited and seasonal depression is a real thing.

If I compare our culture and attitudes with the places that I’ve lived in,  I’d say we  1000% win.  We are the most honest people. Finnish attitude towards others is respectful, you can’t get fooled. We like to be polite and nice to each other but nobody can do that for too long. We do enjoy it when people are purely nice back to us. But we don’t brag, indulge or pamper too much, make fake friendships nor show off in real life. And if someone does, it is almost immediately spotted by a Finn  and labeled as not good behavior.

Birch, Summer, Midsummer, Nature, Leaf, Outdoor
My spanish friends were in shock when I told them what these are. Photo form pixabay

But we love to be Finnish, we are very proud and wouldn’t change it. Nothing can win the real authentic, pure, beautiful advanced but pretty plain life that we have here.  In here everything is actually real and it’s so easy to live like that. No fake smiles, no difficulty to search for a forest  to go for a walk, no such dangers as in the big world and most importantly, pretty smart and educated people who also love to celebrate!

I love love love Finland!

 

Finnishness

Finland is known as the country of thousand lakes and as the happiest country of the world. We have quite a safe place to live in, lots of fields and forests and clean air. We are also known for Santa Claus, saunas, ice hockey, licorice,  Karelian pies and a great education system. Sometimes it is said that Finns don’t talk too much, but in the end, we are very warm and sincere people.

    

But what does being a Finn mean to me? One of my favorite things in Finland are the four seasons we have. I think all four have so many beautiful things and I’ve grown to love all of them. In summer I love to visit our summer cottage, go to sauna and swim. Summer holds a special place in my heart since it is when I’m celebrating my birthday. The autumn is my favorite aesthetically when all trees have beautiful colors of brown and yellow. Autumn is also the time when Finns start schools and I really appreciate the free education we get here. In winter we have lots of snow on the ground and there is quite cold outside and (not going to lie) quite dark all the time so I like to cuddle up inside, light up candles, feel cozy and drink some tea. In contrast I also love to go outside and embrace the beauty of the surroundings. Going on a walk in -20 degrees really makes you feel alive. Spring is the start of a new beginning for me: the nature starts to bloom, and it feels like everyone is starting to wake up after the long winter. Finnish nature is quite like no other and I feel like Finns are really enjoying every piece of it. In addition to the four seasons I also really like sunrises and sunsets, even though I rarely wake up so early to even catch a glimpse of the beautiful sunrises. Sunsets, on the other hand, I do see every evening and I think I have pictures of almost every one of them in summer.

       

For three months I will be living my life in Udine, Italy and I feel like after that I will appreciate Finnishness in a whole other level.

     

Finnishness

Finland is famous for being the Happiest Country in the World. Finland is known for example saunas, reindeer, and the Santa Claus village.

Finns often seem quiet and closed. The Finnish self-esteem is only that they don’t want to bring themselves out or make a number of themselves.

Finland is a country of extremes and contrasts; cold and dark winters opposite of warm and light summers.
There are four seasons in Finland: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. All seasons are different. The weather and nature are very different in different seasons and they are slightly different in different parts of Finland.
Winter is a long, cold, and dark season. Lakes are also usually frozen. In Lapland, the sun doesn’t rise for more than 50 days.
The Finnish summer is short but it is very bright. In Lapland, the sun doesn’t set for more than 70 days.

Nature is very important to Finns. I enjoy spending my time in nature – summertime by camping or picking berries and mushrooms and winter by skating and skiing. In my country is everyman’s rights which means that people have free access rights in nature, they don’t need usually the landowner’s promise to activities.

There are many lakes, rivers, and sea areas in Finland. These are very strongly reflected in Finnish culture. Many artists for example painters, musicians, and writers have been inspired by water because it’s a strong element.

Sauna is an important part of Finnish culture. It is a space that is usually heated to a temperature of about 80-110 degrees for sweating. Sauna is for having a wash and relaxing place where I can spend time quiet and peace. Many Finns swim freestyle swimming, which means swimming in an opening made in the ice. The water temperature is around zero. In Finland open-air swimming has always been part of the sauna tradition.

Equality, trust, honesty, and nature are values that are very important to me. In Finnish society, everyone is equal and must be treated fairly. Finnish women go to work even if they have children. Men and women are both responsible for the care of the children and the home.

Honestly is appreciated in Finland. It is very important to keep your promises and tell the truth. In Finland, looking someone in the eye communicates when you talk to others, that you are being honest towards that person. Usually, it is uncommon to show your emotions in public.

Finns have an exceptionally large space of their own, and they don’t like it if strangers get too close. Finnish society encourages young people to become independent.

It is difficult for many non-Finns to understand Finnish culture and character, as it differs greatly from other nationalities. Despite all the strangeness of Finns, I love being Finnish.

Finnishness to me

When I think about Finnishness I think about freedom and nature. Finland is a free country where everybody can express themselves freely.

Finnish nature is one of a kind and we are lucky we get to experience the four seasons. Sometimes we take these things for granted. Every time I travel somewhere for a longer period of time and think that I’m so over with Finland, soon I realise that Finland is the greatest place to live in. Even though the darkness sometimes is unbearable the sun always comes up. Finnish summers are unbelievable. When in the winter the sun doesn’t come up, in summer it never goes down.

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Finnishness is calmness and safety. Finnish people are calm, laid back and respectful. Finnish people may seem a little shy but when you get to know them they really open up

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I think Finnish lifestyle is full of time with family and friends, sports, enjoying the nature and it also is quite work oriented. We take education seriously and we appreciate our education system. On weekends we take it easy after a long work or study week and if there wasn’t a worldwide pandemic going on you would probably find us at a bar on a Saturday night. And we really can’t forget the sauna that is a really big part of Finnishness.

Afterall I can say that I have a real appreciation for Finland and our culture.

Finishness

           My first experience of “Finishness” began quite spontaneously back in 2016. After spending summer in Greece working on yachts, I needed to find my next destination to work and explore. I was searching the Internet for different destinations and job offers when I saw that Kakslauttanen resort in the far Finnish Lapland is looking for waiters for the winter season. And I thought – well, what the heck, let’s give it a try. After I got the job, I packed my winter clothes and went to spend 5 months in Kakslauttanen. 

           Once I arrived, my first thoughts were: “Wow, this truly is a winter wonderland!” and “Those Finns must truly have grown a thick skin living here in this cold.” Then I started meeting Finnish workers who do their jobs out in cold the whole day long with a very laid-off attitude towards it. So my first thoughts on Finnish people were that they are tough and hard-working people. And the love for the beauty of nature around that radiates from them is something magical and you notice that it sticks with on quite quickly as well! I also started noticing how simplistic these people are. They would accept different mindsets and personalities with a degree of understanding and acceptance, which I have found very true until this day.  

         After having spent the winter season in Lapland, I left for Denmark for two years for my studies. Once I graduated there, I decided to go back to Finland and start studying again in TAMK – Interactive Media. Now I have been in Finland for three years and have experienced a certain degree of “Finishness” in a different way than back in 2016, but many things are still in common across the whole of Finland. Here are my top experiences on this subject:

2016 in Lapland
  1. Nature

           It’s what I love about Finland – that raw beauty exists everywhere you go. Finland is a place for nature lovers. The country and the people are placing the natural surroundings very high and that makes me proud of Finland and proud to live here. I like the outdoors too and have enjoyed a fair amount of what Finland has to offer both winter and summertime.

Winter cottage in Puolankka
  1. Non-judgement and simplicity

           I never noticed how important these aspects are for living in society until I came to Finland. Something is liberating about the way you can express yourself in Finland without being judged. It’s fine to be whoever you want and be respected for it. This is especially apparent with having established friendships with Finnish people. Finland has also thought me the beauty of minimalism and simplicity. I still want to work on myself to achieve that, but there isn’t a better country to learn from on this subject.

  1. Coffee and gambling machines everywhere

           Nobody can beat Finland on this. I do love coffee and I am extremely grateful that it is available everywhere I go. Basic filter coffee is my association with Finland. Also, the gambling machines are literally everywhere, which was hard for me to understand (and still is to some extent) and I have noticed that it is something mostly an older generation adheres to.

           All in all, I appreciate what Finland has to offer and I am ready for experiencing more of that “Finishness” to come. I believe that living here is changing me for a better person.

Finnishness for me

When I think about Finland, first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful nature we have here. Along with nature comes the peacefulness that you can find almost everywhere if you just walk into the nearest forest even during the busy times in your daily life. When I’ve been abroad, especially in big cities, it’s always the nature and the peace that I miss the most. During the summer, being able to just go swimming in the lakes is such a privilege. Also during winter being able to go skiing in the forest is such a pleasure and when I tell about it to my friends who live in abroad where that is not possible, they say it sounds like a thing you could only do when you travel somewhere for a holiday. Nature in Finland brings so much joy into my life here.

 

The second thing I love is the people. I love the way respect each other and especially respect each other’s privacy. I also don’t like talking much a lot with random people, especially small talk feels like such a waste of time, so I love that we don’t really need to do that here.

 

And I can’t forget about sauna. In addition to nature, it’s the thing I always seem to miss the most when I’m abroad. Especially when I used to live in a house where I had my own sauna, it was amazing that I could just go there every day if I wanted to. And even when I don’t have my own sauna in my house, I love that most buildings in Finland have a sauna that all the residents can use, which is also something my friends abroad are always surprised about. During winter, there’s no better feeling than going outside from sauna to cold weather and then back into the warmth of the sauna.

And one more thing, I really love cooking and grocery shopping in Finland. There are such big markets with such a big variety of different food products and also items from all over the world, so I love how easy it is to buy groceries and make your own food. Rather than having a culture where people eat outside often, I like that we don’t have that here because I enjoy making my own food the way I want to and I can invite people over to share it. When I’ve been abroad we mostly just eat outside with my friends, which is nice too, but I just can’t help but always miss my own kitchen and grocery store items when I’m abroad.

Enjoy the silence

 

Finland and its residents are unique. Finnish people are as calm as its nature and go together with every season of the year. When it gets darker and colder in wintertime, we prefer to stay in our bedsheets with a hot chocolate. Some of us enjoy many wintertime activities such as going downhill skiing or ice skating. Skiing resorts are the place where one can find Finnish people as happy as they can be in that time of the year. As the opposite in summertime, we bloom as our flowers do. We enjoy the weather to the fullest, but the most relaxed a Finnish person can be is at their own cottage or Mökki, we would say.

We give importance to little things we do daily, like having our morning coffee and reading the newspaper. It wouldn’t be a normal day without a tiny detail missing in our routine. Finnish people are really dedicated to their everyday lives that gives us freedom: the tranquillity of the mornings, late night walks or just staying at home reading a book. Of course, the norms variate in us, but that’s how I would interpret the peaceful nature of us Finns.

What Is Finnishness?

Finnishness is based in respect, trust, and appreciation.

Respect is the number one factor in Finnish culture. Respect for the rules, respect for each other, and respect for nature. the understanding that the rules are put into place to protect everything around us and why it’s important to follow them, which is why the vast majority of Finns follow the rules to the letter, and why you won’t see many jaywalking, even when there aren’t any cars. Respect for each other, which can be shown through the quiet culture, you don’t want to disturb anyone or bother anyone, because you yourself wouldn’t want to be bothered, and finally respect for nature, knowing how beautiful and wonderful it is to be able to swim in a lake and walk through a forest, and wanting to preserve that by keeping it clean, and replanting trees after they’ve been razed for example.

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Next, the deep trust Finns have for each other is amazing. Trust in the government to do the right thing and to try and better the lives of all Finns and trust in each other to be negotiating and helping each other in good faith. this can be seen in any situation where something can’t be verified. If you speak Finnish alot of the time you can explain the situation and they’ll trust you.

Lastly, appreciation for the nature around them and everything they have around them. this appreciation can really helps to ground us and no matter what is going on, we have what is needed.

 

Finnishness

When I’m thinking about Finland and Finnishness, first things that comes to my mind is the beautiful nature of Finland and four seasons we have here. Finland is known by thousands of lakes, clean forests and fresh air. Finnish people like to go for a walk in the woods, camping and picking up some berries and mushroom from the forest in the autumn. I think that finnish people really respect and enjoy the nature but we’re also very happy to live in safe country where the education system usually works very well.

In winter we can enjoy snowy views and do wintersports like skating, skiing and snowboarding. The classic winter hobby is swimming in ice hole, which might sound grazy to someone non-Finnish. If you’re lucky, you can have a chance to see some northern lights especially in Lapland. 

Even though we have pretty long and dark winter here in Finland, the summer here is super nice, bright and sometimes also very hot. In summer Finnish people are used to enjoy cottage life, which usually includes sauna and swimming in lake. Many Finnish people love sunbathing and they really take full advantage of short summer. In midsummer the sun doesn’t go down the entire night and that is something quite magical. 

What really is Finnishness?

My experience of Finnishness is rooted in three ideas, respect, trust, and contentment.

 

to start with respect, every interaction (or lack thereof) is rooted in respect for each other in Finland. there is a powerful respect for personal boundaries in Finland, and the idea of “you do you, I’ll do me”. One example of this is when a Finn might bump into another on a bus; both people know that this was simply an accident, and it happens, and there is no need to apologize or even acknowledge it happened because if you were to speak it might further disturb the person you bumped into. another aspect of this is respect for nature. Finland is so beautiful with its forests and lakes, and as a culture we respect it by cleaning up after ourselves, replanting trees after they’ve been cut, and protecting it however we can.

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When I first moved to Finland I was amazed at the level of trust Finns had in all aspects of their lives. In the US for example, people are very wary of the government, salesmen, strangers, basically everyone they don’t have a very deep relationship with. What’s amazing in Finland is the trust they put in others in all sorts of different situations. For example, when traveling and forgetting a document, you speak with the customs agent and explain the situation 9 times out of 10 they’ll believe you after just 10 minutes of speaking. Or when negotiating benefits for a job, there is mutual respect and trust between the employer and employee, and the final deal is made in good faith. and trust in the rule of law, and that there is a reason different government regulations are in place and that they should be followed to make things better for all people.

Finally, Finnish culture can also be based on contentment and appreciation. You can compare the American dream to the Finnish dream. these days the American dream is to own a mansion, have tons of money, to truly build an empire for your children that will last generations. Comparatively, what I’ve seen to be the Finnish dream is to own your own Mökki on a lake somewhere to enjoy on your days off with your partner and children, and just enjoy the nature and quiet around you. So a big part of Finnishness is appreciating the little things you have, and having that sustain you, whether it is reading a good book in a comfy chair while watching the snow outside, or having a beer in the Sauna with a close friend and just having a laugh together. these little things are what make life worth living.