Tag Archives: archipelago

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

Finnish summer and sailing

What I love most in Finland is sailing in Saaristomeri and Åland archipelago. I usually spend most of my holidays during summertime in sailing boat with our dear friends. We sail and wonder the rough nature of outer sea islands.

One of my favorite islands is Utö, that is located at southern part of Saaristomeri archipelago. The island has a living history of hundreds of years related to seamanship, wrecks, lighthouse and wars.

The lighthouse in Utö is the oldest one in Finland and the island even has the smallest school of whole country. Utö is habited throughout year – there are under 50 people living there. In the history there was no cemetery in Utö, the current one was build in sixties with sand imported from mainland by ships. Before that the locals had to bury loved ones to near by island Jurmo.

The nature of Utö is wonderful – it is one of the best places in Finland to spot birds. Being occupied by Finnish Army until 2005 the nature has been saved from mass of “tourists” spoiling the peace of nature. The pure roughness of the island makes me wonder how the local people survive trough harsh autumn and winter.

During summer time the harshness seems to be gone. There are lots of sailing and motorboats visiting the Utö harbor or anchored in bay between Utö and neighbor island Ornskär.  Harbor has a restaurant and a small shop where you can buy basic food. Trekking in both of the islands reveals the beautiful nature and also the lighthouse and old coastal artillery base still standing there.

Finland, my homeland

There are four things that are important to me in Finland and those are security, nature, technology and quality of education. These things are also held in high regard in the Finnish culture.

Finland is known for the low corruption rates in the leadership and public sector and there is a high trust for law enforcement.

The quality of education in Finland is known across the globe.

The beautiful Finnish nature brings in tourists from all corners of the world during all seasons, especially to Lapland.

Four seasons.

With the Finnish economy slowly growing, more and more start-ups are popping up, mostly within the technological fields. New and innovative ideas are being born in Finland every year.

 

What to do in Finland? I mostly enjoy the summer time. We have a lot of outdoor activities like festivals and sports, if the weather is good (it usually isn’t).

During summers I spend some time at my cottage on the coast near Vaasa, enjoying the beautiful archipelago.

 

Vaasa archipelago. Photo: Jaakko J Salo.

 

During the proper winter (Jan-Mar) we will have a lot of snow and sub-zero degrees centigrade.

There’s a lot of sport activities that can be done during this time as well as walk on the frozen lakes.

The real Finnish stereotypes

Nature reserve in Southern Finland.

What is it like to live in Finland? For me it means clean air, quiet green forests, snowy fields and in the summer a sunny archipelago. I absolutely adore my home country when it comes to the peaceful nature where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the somewhat busy lifestyle. The weather isn’t that nice most of the time, but when it is, you really come to appreciate it and make the most of your time outdoors. You really come to value the little things living in Finland: a little ray of sun in the morning can make your whole day. Everywhere is pretty in the summer and people are beaming happiness. Or some of them, because it’s a common joke that it’s always either too hot or too cold. The Finns are pale most of the year but in the summer they turn red or if they are lucky, get nicely tanned and that’s how you have achieved the most important task in the summer.

Peace and quiet.

Finnish people are pretty quiet but if you start talking to them, you rarely get an ill answer. Still, do not sit next to someone in a bus if there are free seats, that’s one of the most important things you need to learn if you come to visit Finland. It will make everyone cringe. Being a Finn is pretty neat. You get ”free” education and monetary support to your studies from your government. Our education is great compared to other countries and our academic skills are well valued. It’s also really safe here. Top 3 biggest fears, at least for me, are being bitten by snake (which we have 2 kinds of which nether is deadly venomous and are only seen in the nature in summer), killed by a bear (which is really unlikely) or being stabbed (usually involves intoxicating substance usage and debts so for normal citizen this fear is also very unlikely) We really are proud hockey people and we always want to win the Swedish. Besides drinking milk like newborn babies and being coffee addicts, one of our biggest pet peeves is using alcohol – and usually too much of it. Still, I’m lucky to be a Finn and even though in the future I plan to live abroad for a while, I still want to live most of my life in Finland.

A colubrid snake in archipelago.