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