Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me and asked where I live. When I said “Finland”, I was asked where that is. “Next to Sweden.” – “Ah yeah, I know Sweden.”
I originally come from Germany, so that will be my point of reference. The Finnish culture is a lot more reduced and life is in a way simpler: problems get solved quicker and easier, its okay if something is not completely clean or beautiful and people are modest and close to nature.
The whole population of Finland (5,5 mio.) lives in Berlin, but is spread over the same area as Germany (≈ 358.000 km²). That results in people not bothering each other and leaving each other in peace. And since there are a lot less people involved, important decisions (such as gay marriage) and cultural and technological advancement are processed much quicker. Internet, infrastructural connections to everywhere and modern technology are a standard.
But on the other hand the Finnish lifestyle is more relaxed, simpler and cleaner. The motto is “Pragmatic before pretty”. Use as little words as possible (bonus points for abbreviation or not talking at all), rather wear the crumpled, warm winter jacket than the latest Gucci coat and don’t buy too much unnecessary decoration and furniture. Don’t beat around the bush and say immediately what you want. But the Finnish culture can be very open and caring in an indirect way. The everyman’s right (jokamiehenoikeus) permits everybody to enjoy outdoor activities (camping, hiking, gathering mushrooms, berries etc.) in every forest and fell as long as you leave people and the environment undisturbed.
Another unwritten rule is: praise the home country. Not as fanatic as a certain English speaking country , but please buy only products that have been produced in Finland if possible (Marimekko, Makia, Arabia, Nokia, Fazer, etc.). Last year, when Finland turned 100 years old, every product everywhere was covered with Suomi100 stickers and Finns went nuts. Rightly, Finns are proud of their independence and home country and show that in an open, but modest way.
If possible, Finns retreat back to nature on many occasions. There is a deep connection to nature that is enjoyed by hiking, camping and resting in the summer cottage (mökki). It often bears the bare necessities: a bed, a kitchen, sofa, table and most importantly: sauna. Sauna belongs to Finnish culture like jam to peanut butter. It can be found in every household, providing stress relieve, health and warmth.
In earlier times it as always build first in the house and even was a primitive labor room.