Monthly Archives: August 2019

Finnish lifestyle

Finnish lifestyle varies depending on the time of the year. The seasonal changes can be seen in our behavior and in our habits. Many of our hobbies and eating habits varies depending on the current season. We are blessed to have four different seasons (at least for now) and they mainly control our flow of life. This post presents the different seasons and Finnish ways to spend them.

Autumn

Autumn is all about getting back to the routines and schedules. Finns have returned from their vacations and are ready to start their normal daily rhythms. This can be seen from crowded gyms and public transports. Mostly Autumn is pretty hectic time and many Finns might feel themselves stressed after the Summer. Weather is getting more rainier and those bright nights are only a memory at this point. Some might feel a bit melancholic about the Summer being over. But still, many Finns also love Autumn because you can stay at home during your free-time without feeling bad about yourself for not doing anything.  Roots, mushrooms, blueberries and apples are some of the most common seasonal ingredients used. Many Finns grow these themselves or picks them up from the near forest. These ingredients can also be found from many of the marketplaces or  from local markets at reasonable price.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle syysmarkkinat

Winter

Winter is the time for different outdoor sports such as downhill skiing or just regular skiing, skating and ice fishing. Many Finns travel to the Northern Finland during their holiday to experience the different outdoor possibilities. I bet coffee is probably the most used commodity at this season because the evenings are so long and the mornings are dark. The “sun” rises around 8-9 am and sets around 5 pm. People staying in Finland are highly recommended to take extra D-vitamin during Winter time. All in all Winter in Finland is pretty amazing and offers something for everybody. If you like playing in outdoors when it’s -20 degrees, great, or if you’re the type of person that likes staying at home under the blankets- this is the perfect season for you.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle lapin luonto

Spring

Spring is the time when nature and people wake up after the long Winter. During Spring most Finns plan their summer activities and prepare themselves for Summer. Students are looking for internship and summer job places, companies are hiring new employees, people will prepare their summer cottages and book vacations. Spring in Finland goes fast, everyone is hyped about upcoming Summer and setting expectations for it. People start going out more and wearing less. Narcissus is the symbol of Spring. These flowers can be seen decorating many household’s kitchen table.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle kevät

Summer

Ah the long waited Summer. Like I said earlier, we Finns set a lot of expectations for Summer. Summer is the time to spend time with friends, family and with different hobbies. Most Finns head to the cottages for summer and spend their vacation there. Some travel to countries where there’s actually warm to get proper tan. Some Finns take part in many of the festivals and celebrations that all most every city organizes. There’s something going on in every summer day. The most popular food ingredients are different berries and fruits and meats that you can grill: sausages, stakes, fish… anything mainly. Finnish Summer is truly time for celebration and relaxation.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle kesä

The Finns’ relation to nature

The Finnish nature is something that Finnish people are really proud of. It’s an important part of the Finnish culture, national identity and everyday life. In Finland the nature is all around you no matter where you are. Even in the cities you can find forests and lakes and experience the Finnish nature. After all, 78% Finland’s total area is covered by forests and 9,4% by lakes.

Lake Saimaa, Finland. Photo by Katariina Korhonen

Enjoying the nature often means clearing your mind, having alone time and relaxing but to different people it can mean different things. One of the best parts about Finland’s nature is that you can experience and enjoy it in so many different ways: you can go biking, hiking, picking berries or mushrooms, swimming, canoeing, camping, skiing – you name it. The Finnish nature has a lot to offer and so it has something for everyone.

Välijoki, Finland. Photo by Katariina Korhonen

Finnish people have a kind of built-in need to be in touch with nature. The Finnish nature represents peace, safety, silence and purity, which are essential values to Finns. I think, the Finnish nature answers to the need of silence and peace that Finns have. In my opinion, the Finnish nature reflects the Finnish identity and mentality. Finns are often described to be silent, persistent and though, which, I imagine, comes from having roots in the majestic Nordic nature.

Snowy forest in Välijoki, Finland. Photo by Katariina Korhonen

 

Finnish Living

Cottage culture

There is about half a million summer cottages in Finland.

Most Finns have lived in rural areas, and many Finns have liked the peace of the countryside. Many city dwellers are balancing their busy lives. Cottage offers the opportunity to temporarily break free from imposed sanctions and do things that are important to you and not imposed externally.

The cottage environment is expected to be unspoiled, wild, unpolluted and simple, as opposed to cities, and is sought for spiritual cleansing and expansion

I have too diligently spent time at last year acquired a cottage, which is located in far away from where i live. The most important thing for me is changing the landscape.

 

The cabin in the picture has been in use by my close family for about a year, with a small yard with, outdoor sauna and an outdoor shed. The cottage has no special amenities except radios. The cottage warms up on cold summer nights and in the winter with chopped trees. The cottage originally has been a house for husmann. A husmann lived in a cottage and then leased a nearby farm paid with manual work on the owner’s fields. There is nearby a big land which used to be a farmfield.

The cottage has been recently painted and renovated. It has a water post from where water is carried inside. Modernizations has been also made, a small space in the former hallway has an electric toilet installed and electrics have been pulled to the house.

Finnishness

Finnishness to me is about the bigger picture. It includes the humble Finnish people, monotonous language, the culture and the pride of being a Finn. A typical Finn is usually pretty introvert person until you get to know him/her. Once you got to know a Finn personally they are really open, warm and talkative.

 

I believe that one cause to the “shyness” comes from the language. Finnish language is monotonous and it makes other language’s words harder to pronounce unless you’ve used to be in interaction with them. If typical Finn from street starts to speak English it’s normally basic “rally” English. If you’re wondering what that sounds here’s a sample from rally driver Gronholm himself:

 

 

The culture is hard to describe. It’s something that you really need become part of. Finns might not be the most outgoing sort but they always have something weird to do or in this case eat. Finns have few really delicacies; mämmi (rye pudding), mustamakkara (black sausage), salmiakki (salty liquorice), ruisleipä (rye bread) and karjalanpiirakka (Karelian pasty). These are a-must-have treats to taste if you’re planning on visiting Finland.

 

Finns take pride being true to themselves. They think they can do everything by themselves and will not ask for help unless it’s necessary. If you see a Finn fall down or working on a hard project – I ensure you that the Finn will work it’s tail off pretending that everything is going well and stuff seems under control even thought they might be in deep trouble trying to keep face. Asking for help is big step for a Finn.

Finland is country of thousand lakes with lots of forests and great nature. Finns have great opportunity to escape to the nature and possibly go relax to cottages with their closest ones which is great feature in this time of technology. In the summer Finns like to spend time on the waters or beaches and eat great barbeque food. This is Finns best time to recharge batteries and collect thoughts.

 

What Finnishness means to me

To me, Finnishness has several different aspects to it. We are one of the most happiest countries of the world, yet we seem to complain about everything sometimes. We should reflect more on the positive things that living in Finland brings.

Finnishness to me, means being able to go to school from a very young age, receiving an education that is one of the best in the world and eat free, healthy and balanced lunches. And when we get older, we get those lunches for the price of a cup of coffee at a restaurant, while still getting the free education.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle kesä suomi
Finnish lake at summer time. Picture from pixabay.com

Finnishness also means to be able to wander around in nature, breathing clean air and swim in thousands of lakes. It means I can go to the woods, pick berries and mushrooms for free and later on enjoy them. It means I can sleep in a tent in national parks or wherever in peace and quiet.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle marjat
Local berries. Picture from Kotiliesi.fi

It means dark and rainy autumns, sipping tea and burning candles, enjoying it but still complaining. Also crispy cold winters, skiing down a fell in Lapland or dipping into a frozen lake straight form the sauna, complaining about it being cold but yet enjoying it. Springs and summers, longing for the sun to warm the air and then complaining of the heat. We are lucky though to be able to enjoy the four seasons as they are.

It also means going abroad and having to explain to taxi drivers and strangers that we in fact do not have polar bears and penguins, let alone live in igloos. It means feeling uncomfortable when having to ask for help or speak to strangers. We cherish are honest, cherish our privacy and try to avoid any unnecessary contact if possible, which can often be misunderstood as being rude. I think these things are very well interpreted by Finnish Nightmares. I personally often relate to them.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle lappi
Winter at its best. Picture from Lapinkansa.fi

Finnish culture: the people

People make the culture – so what are the Finns like? The myth of the withdrawn Finn is still alive and well inside Finland, and Finns, with their self-deprecating wit, will be the first to let foreigners in on it. An example of a Finnish joke explains it well: “An introverted Finn looks at his shoes when talking to you; an extroverted Finn looks at your shoes”. In certain ways, Finns are pretty peculiar people and we secretly enjoy conveying that image of ourselves, even if it weren’t always true.

Finland is a country where considerable weight is attached to the spoken word – words are chosen carefully and for the purpose of delivering a message. Indeed, there are very few other culture-specific considerations that visitors need to be aware of. Finns place great value on words, which is reflected in the tendency to say little and avoid “unnecessary” small talk.

We really enjoy our personal space and we only hug people we are close with. Not to mention kissing someone on the cheek, since that would probably require a few vodka shots. And about that – Finns are world-renowned for their fondness for drink. The Finnish people also have a very distinctive way of getting hammered, which often involves copious amounts of alcohol drunk very quickly.

 

Painting with a broad brush, Finns take pride in individualism, moving on their own early compared to most other Europeans, taking pride in working from an early age and taking care of themselves all the way from young adulthood to old age. Speaking one’s mind and being honest and dependable are culturally valued traits. And lastly, Finns are not inclined to compliment other people for nothing; so, if they say something positive about you, you should feel flattered!

Finnishness is key to happiness

According to UN report Finland was the happiest country in the world in 2019. What can be the reason for this phenomena in this dark and cold country where we silently wait for a bus in wet rain slush what feels like most of the year? Happiness can be measured by life expectancy, social security, economic status and so on but let me tell why for me I truly feel that I live among happiest nation in the world.

If you pick out any finn from the street and ask for example directions in english they will probably talk broken “rally english” and be a bit ashamed. But you know what that is quite impressive. Because of our high quality education system that is free for all can most finns speak english quite good and do not hesitate to help tourists in need. What a proud reason to be a happy finn!

You can consider every finn a master of meditation, we do practise it every day whether we know it or not. Imagine a morning bus, everyone sits quietly gazing through the window and if possible on window seat and no one sitting next to you. That is important to us, gathering thoughts and being with just your own self, that sounds like meditating doesn’t it. That bus ride does not sound so grimm now if you consider everyone just meditating on their way to work, sounds nice actually.

Here is some meditation soundtrack from Finnish summer. Perhaps play it in the background as you continue reading.

You may hear lots of stereotypes about finishness but actually underneath the surface you can find happiest nation in the world, it just depends on the way you look at things. Key to happiness maybe?

Finnish nightmares, author Karoliina Korhonen

Finnishness – Finnish Nature

 

Me as a child. Photo: Family album.

I was born in a small town called Vaasa. When I was a child, we used to spend summers with my family at our cottage by the lake Lappajärvi 120 km from Vaasa. It was the place I learned to swim. I think I was spending most of my time in the lake. It was so much fun to play in the water. My mom has told that I was very interested in nature. I was always searching the ground. In school years I was a scout girl and enjoyed to spent time hiking in the forest.

 

Lake Lappajärvi. Photo: Minna Annola

My definition of Finnishness is Finnish nature. If I stay for a long time abroad nature is that thing what I miss from Finland. I have visited 48 countries around the world. For foreigners who like to experience the Finnish nature, I recommend a hike in Lapland or a cottage vacation by the lake.

 

Urho Kekkonen National Park. Photo: Minna Annola.

I have been hiking in Lapland several times. There is something magical in nature, in the sound of silence and the freshwater what you can drink straight from the stream. Landscapes are amazing with mountains, streams, and reindeer. I recommend a hike in the middle of August when there are fewer mosquitos, but still quite warm. You can sleep in a tent or book a cottage. There is also an opportunity to sleep in cottages which are free for anyone to spend night example in Urho Kekkonen National Park.

 

Lake Lappajärvi. Photo: Minna Annola.

Currently, we have a new cottage located in the countryside middle of the fields, by the lake Lappajärvi. It’s my place to relax and get new energy. It’s the place where I forget daily life’s stressful challenges. There I just am. There I used to meet my family, fish, paint, cook or read a book. Fields are long, the ground is quite flat, there are not many hills and no high buildings, you can see the whole sky above you. You can see nature speaks to you.

Lappajärvi. Photo: Minna Annola.

What Finnishness means to me

Before reading this, I would like to say to you (whoever is crazy enough to read texts longer than a tweet nowadays), that the following text might be a bit boring to read (here you have a perfect example of the Finnish modesty) but I am not a writer like Eino Leino or Minna Canth, I don’t enjoy writing as much as they did. But I still managed to write down this lovely list of things that the word Finnishness means to me.

What Finnishness means to me. Well, it means a lot of different things. Firstly, it means the ability to enjoy all the four seasons with all their positive and negative qualities. It means long cold winter, beautiful and lively spring, green and warm summer and rainy but colorful autumn. It means the ability to breathe in the fresh air and walk around beautiful, clean and peaceful nature.

Lakes are a huge part of the Finnish nature.

 

It means the ability to be whatever I want to be and the ability to study for free. It means feeling safe. It means that everyone has equal opportunities to succeed and everyone is treated with respect. It means that you get a mum package from KELA when you have a baby.

It means a lot of coffee, beer, and sausages. And weirdly a lot of potatoes in different forms. It means eating weird foods like mämmi and liver casserole and pretending to enjoy it (some people actually enjoy these things).

.Mämmi – a Finnish Easter dessert. Picture source: K-ruoka.fi

It is feeling uncomfortable when someone sits next to me on a half-empty bus or a train. It means the weird look on my face if a stranger begins to have a conversation with me. But then again it means being completely fine with going to a public sauna and sitting there half-naked with people you don’t know. It is the feeling of community when people go crazy over something successful that a Finnish sports team does and the feeling of pride when Finland related stuff appears international movies or TV series. It means the pride and respect I feel when I hear the national anthem of Finland and think about how Finns fought for the independence of our country.

Picture source: finnishnightmares.blogspot.com

It means going to the cottage when it is Midsummer and eating rice porridge when it is Christmas morning. It means watching the independence they celebrations and listening to Finlandia together with family. It means celebrating vappu with friends and eating a lot of munkki with sima.

Picture source: Finnish Travel Blog

Finnishness means that it is ok to complain about being chosen the country with the happiest people in the world.  Lastly and maybe most importantly it means queuing up to get a free bucket and hoping to win the lottery. Overall, it is an honor to be able to call this country my home and to live in the same country with Santa Claus, of course.

Picture source: ifunny.com

There is so much more to it as well, I am sure, but here are the first things that came into my mind when I started to think about the meaning of Finnishness.

 

 

 

 

Top3 things that finnish people are proud of

I. Winning the ice hockey world championship

Finland won the ice hockey world championship for the first time in 1995 and that moment has a special place in finnish person’s heart, if he/she was there to witness it. Since 1995, Finland has won the championship twice more. 

For me the special one was the championship of 2011, because in 95 I was too young to understand. In 2011 I was 21 years old, so I could go out and enjoy the atmosphere where all the people are friends with each other, and most are really drunk and celebrating. It’s a magical feeling.

II. Winning the Eurovision 2006

Finland won the Eurovision song contest for the first (and probably the last) time in 2006. A heavy metal band called Lordi was representing Finland that year, and it is the first time a heavy metal band has won the contest.

Most finnish people didn’t like Lordi or didn’t take them seriously before that year’s Eurovision success. But finnish people are really happy when their small country and it’s efforts are noticed on the world, so after the victory, every finnish person celebrated it like the nation itself had won something.

III. “Winning” different titles like “the least unsuccesfull nation in the world” and “happiest nation in the world”

I think finnish people especially enjoy holding the title for being “least unsuccesfull”. Although that list wasn’t about which country is least unsuccesfull, but which one is most unsuccesull. Finland just happened to be on bottom of that list. It is somehow very finnish to call yourself “least unsuccesfull” instead of calling yourself “most succesfull”.

Finland has also placed #1 in some of the “happiest country in the world” rankings. Finnish people find this ranking wierd, they’d rather call themselves “least sad”.