Top 3 things to do when trying to be Finnish!

For reasons unknown to me, there seems to be a growing need for people to find fact based and proven methods to achieve a certain state of “Finnishness!”. To meet this need head-on I have compiled a list of undisputable facts about what you need to be doing in order to achieve this elusive goal.

  1. Become one with the Rye Bread

Like with many other cultures, the way to start on the path that is knowing real Finnishness is to fall in love with its cuisine.  Often times the food stuffs consumed inside certain cultures are a great way to get glimpse inside the mind-set of a nationality.

In Finland’s case, that glimpse requires the consumption of some stone-hard, teeth-breaking, soul-draining and man-kneeling Rye Bread. This thing is hard as life. There is no place for egos here and humility is paramount when partaking in chewing of this life altering substance. It has kept the bowels of many generations of Finns clean as a whistle through centuries.

It truly is the perfect metaphor for the Finnish understanding of itself and its position in the world, which is to be humble and hardworking over everything else.

If you are successfully able to chew through a packet of “Jälkiuunileipä” you truly are one great step closer towards finding real Finnishness!


  1. Practice the art of intense listening

Second skill to acquire when aiming for that sweet, sweet title of a “Finn” is quietness. Silence. The art of no-talk-and-have-the-expression-of-deep-thought.

This skill involves the usage of many facial muscles: Squinting of your eyes to add some gravitas and give the impression of focus, tightening of lips to make sure you don’t give out your position on the matter that’s been discussed too early, slowly nodding maybe for approval or maybe because he arrived to a conclusion of some sort, who knows?

The point is, just be quiet and keep your distance. It will make you seem a lot smarter than you probably are and it will cut down the time required to spend on these annoying social-interaction situations (which, by the way are hated by all Finns).


  1. Sauna: institutionalized nudism

Last thing you got to learn, in order to receive your congratulatory, Finnish government mandated Waist Pack, is to embrace yourself, without any clothes, in a hot and steamy room with complete strangers, while whipping everyone inside that steamy and hot room with tree branches.

While doing this holy ritual, it will dawn upon you that everything you read on this list of must-dos is a fallacy. While inside that hallowed space of a sauna, sitting butt-cheek against a butt-cheek with strangers, all the things you got told about Finns wash away. Suddenly closeness isn’t a problem and a non-stop conversation, with some dry jokes, becomes the standard. Life doesn’t appear as hard anymore and inside that dark, steamy room you can finally see that those weird Finns with their weird tribal customs aren’t really that weird or different after all.

Sami Juntunen

1 thought on “Top 3 things to do when trying to be Finnish!

  1. Sami, You present your points with a fine sense of humor. The description of life in a sauna is the best I’ve read.

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