Monthly Archives: January 2021

Finland is a small country with a big heart

As a finn myself, I see Finland as a country of trust. That is the core and heart of our country and our whole society is based on that. We are really reliable, that makes us a little vulnerable and naive in some situations. I feel that finnish people often wanna believe in the good in other people. We are very optimistic about life and I think that is one of the reasons why Finland is often ranked as a happiest country in the world. 

Finland has an amazing nature! I can’t imagine anything better than spending hot summer nights on cottage, watching sunshine on the lake. Going to the sauna and jumping into the warm water to swim. Fully enjoying the moment with your whole body and mind. Finnish nature is something like any other.

Finnish people take care of each others. You can rely on people and promises are a very serious thing here – they must been kept.

Finland is safe – that’s the thing what can’t miss. You can basically walk outside any time of the day with minimum risk to get into danger. You can also let your kids walk to school on their own which is very unique thing on this world. You don’t have to be worried all the time.

Finnish people are often claimed to be shy, maybe even cold but I think that is really far from the truth. We sure appreciate our own personal space and silence is not feeling unnatural to us but that’s because we put a lot of value in every word we say to another person. Often we don’t say anything more, than it’s needed. We are really ”on the point” type of people. And I actually think that it’s one strength about us.

When you come to Finland, it is hard to miss the coffee culture in here. In fact, finnish people are the biggest coffee consumers on the world and you can notice it everywhere. We have coffee breaks at work, you drink coffee while visiting your friends or family, you have to get your morning coffee to stand up. Coffee is what keeps us finns up and going!

Last but not least – the sauna. There are saunas almost in every house or apartment building in the country – and we sure use them! It is our way to relax on the weekend – or just run away from cold weather. Finland is not Finland without our unique sauna culture. 

Finnishness is about trust, reliable people, coffee, soul-relaxing silence, amazing nature in the summer nights and of course hot saunas. Finland as a country is a home, place, where to feel safe and comfortable. Atleast for me.

Photos:

https://www.pexels.com/fi-fi/kuva/aamu-maisema-luonto-taivas-4081119/

https://pixabay.com/photos/bath-firewood-design-sauna-blow-1317997/

https://pixabay.com/photos/helsinki-cathedral-cathedral-church-4189824/

 

 

 

In Finland we have this thing called…

Finnish culture is an interesting one. At a glance it seems as grey as the long drink served in corner bars around the country. Food seems to have all the shades of beige, people dress in black, white and grey, interaction is restrained, and our most acknowledged movies and music is all about melancholy.

 

It takes time and a keen eye to see the colors, liveliness and joy in Finnish culture. Getting to know people is like peeling an onion, you’ll get to the core by patiently peeling of layer after layer. But just as with an onion, it get’s easier after each layer. One needs to accept the dry humor, reserved presence and modesty that is coded into the Finnish DNA. Underneath the surface there is a reward for those who choose to see it: loyalty, respect and a fierce sense of justice as well as readiness to fight for it.

Our language is difficult to learn, yet it is another reward for those who learn it. Finnish language is a cornucopia of wittiness, nuances, unique and near untranslatable words, humor, colors and opportunities for beautiful prose. On the other hand, it can be harsh, vulgar, aggressive, intimidating even. What we hide behind our outer layer of presence, we make up for in the use of our language and its dialects.

But what makes our culture stand out? One might say it’s our love for melancholy, another argues it’s sauna or sisu, and the third insists it’s our integration of nature and people. I argue it’s a sum of all these and more. Quirkiness is definitely an aspect that get’s us noted globally.

In my years living abroad before, I noticed that one of the most used sentences by Finns abroad is “In Finland we have this thing called…”. The list of words and sentences filling the blank is endless and to an extent absurd. Throwing boots and mobile phones, an endless list of alcoholic beverages, sports payed in the swamp,  nakedness everywhere, beating yourself and your friend with a bunch of birch branches, ridiculous proverbs, food that looks like baby poop, and the list goes on and on.  

But it is not just the quirkiness of the list that sums up Finnish people and culture, the key is in the sentence itself. We are proud of what we have and what we do as a nation. It takes innovation and resourcefulness to come up with these things. We are a nation of innovators, we have excellent education, we develop groundbreaking technologies and we work hard to be noticed globally. And once we are noticed, it’s time to meet at the marketplace.

– Wille Holopainen

Finnishness from a French point of view.

I have now been leaving in Finland for seven years, can speak Finnish and my companion is also a Fin, so I am also slowly becoming a Fin.

To me, Finnishness is in 2 layers.

  • The first you see is the cold people, reserved, quiet, distant (unless drunk) and enjoying their sauna but always helpful if dare asks for.
  • The second you see is when you start to know them and have friends. And realize how warm, helpful, and accepting they are.

Besides people, Finnishness is also about nature and lakes. Nature is a very important part of Finland. The presence of green areas and parks in cities is huge and the forest or lakes are never far from you even when living in the center of a city.

Finnish people enjoy going out to the forest as it is quiet and clean. Actually, most Fins own a summer cottage/cabin in the middle of nature and nearby a lake. This shows how important relation to nature is in Finland.

Personal space is also an important part of fins. Standing 1 to 2 meters away from each other while queuing is something normal. Even with friends, we do not touch but for the hug to say hello and even this doesn’t apply to all.  All the rules are changes when going to a sauna. Whether you know the people you are going to or not a sauna is always naked and in a small space. No one cares what you look like or even if you know each other.  It can be a common thing to go to the sauna with coworkers for example.

In the end, Finnishness is warm, welcoming, respectful, and close to nature.

The Finnishness experience from the view of a Swedish speaking Finn

As a Swedish speaking Finn I belong to the linguistic minority in Finland that speak Finland Swedish. Finland Swedish is Swedish but has its own sound, and Finland Swedish has developed own words that Swedes in Sweden do not understand. And it is very common for people to mix Finnish and Swedish together, when they speak Finland Swedish. There are also many different dialects of Swedish, depending on where you live in Finland.

Some Swedish speaking Finns are fluent in both Swedish and Finnish and are bilingual.  Swedish is a mandatory language we have to learn in school in Finland. In my case my mother tongue is Swedish, but I am equally fluent in Finnish. My dad speaks Swedish and my mom speaks Finnish, but both my parents are of Finnish origin. And a fun fact: Swedish speaking Finns have an own unofficial yellow and red flag, which is quite funny.

The Swedish speaking Finns are a very tight knit community in Finland. Some traditions have been inherited from Sweden. One example is “kräftskiva” a crayfish party, which is very common to celebrate in August. You eat crayfish and sing songs with family and friends.

One thing that has been a big thing in my identity as a Swedish speaking Finn, is playing handball as a hobby. It is a ball sport played mostly on the coastal areas of Finland and is almost completely played by only Swedish speaking Finns. The sport is big in other Nordic countries and Europe as well. In Finland it is still a small sport. I have played handball when I was younger, in a few teams and the Finnish national handball team. Handball is a very versatile contact sport that require speed, strength and coordination. Heres a link to a video showing top 30 goals in the VELUX EHF Champions League. From the video it is possible to grasp what kind of sport handball is in action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRMLs7n-G64

One other thing that has been a big part of my identity as a Swedish speaking Finn, is a big relay running competition called “Stafettkarnevalen”, which is organised for Swedish speaking schools in Finland every year in spring. Almost all Swedish speaking Finns in Finland have participated in the event at least once or know people that have participated. Schools start to prepare for the event early on and there are different teams in different running categories such as 4×100 m running or longer distances. There is also an own category for cheerleaders to come up with their own songs, to support their own school’s teams. And there is also a mascot competition. I have participated in the event every year from when I was 12 years old to when I graduated from high school. It has always been a very exciting event to be a part of.

 

Another thing that is important to me, which I think sums up Finnishness is the Finnish nature, the forests and the archipelago. Especially during the summer I spend time in the Finnish archipelago whenever I can, because it is so beautiful. And the summer nights are never completely dark, which is cool!

Picture of the Finnish archipelago in the summer.

 

Flag for Swedish Speaking Finns: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Swedish-speaking_Finns.svg

Picture of Stafettkarnevalen: https://stafettkarnevalen.fi/dokumentbank/

Crayfish: Picture by Biea on Pixabay

Handball: Picture by JeppeSmedNielsen on Pixabay

My Favourite Part of the Finnish Experience

As a Half-Finn/ Half-American and living most of my life in the United States, the scope of my perspective may be quite limited. However, I have lived in Finland for the past four years so I can comment on aspects that I enjoy of Finnish Culture.

I think experiencing summer in Finland is a unique experience is one that is special to myself, as growing up I would visit Finland often in the summer. As I have gotten older and have been living in Finland this still is true, going to the Mökki every summer is something my family and friends even from abroad make a point of doing every year.



The serenity and peacefulness of being lakeside, hopping in and out of the sauna, and drinking until the sun goes down (haha) is something that every person who has come to Finland remembers and wants to experience again.

I think the tranquility of nature here can also be perceived in the personality of the often seen as ‘soft-spoken’ cliche of the typical Finn, one who is content with the life they live.