Finns have their own quirks like every nationality. For me, this blog post was hard to write because there were so many topics already covered in previous posts. However, I found some topics to write about.
Need for private space is very obvious. Finns don’t want to get close to strangers so if there is space, it gets evenly filled. In a student restaurant, for example, we don’t go to sit opposite to a stranger. An unwritten rule is that we always leave at least one or two empty chairs in between whenever possible! In case of a smaller table with only four chairs we maximize the distance by leaving the nearest opposite chair to the stranger empty. This way we avoid looking the other person straight in the eyes which would be uncomfortable. The attached simple illustration tries to show this need for private space.
Modesty shows in many ways in Finns behaviour. There is always someone better than us for doing a task. For example, when inviting guests to your place and serving food for them, it’s common to say that “I hope this is eatable” etc. It means that the guests could probably cook better than us. Another example is when you’re going for a date with a Finn. Please start discussing about your mutual interests instead of stressing to what you can do the best even when you’re very good at it. As a professional ice hockey player you should try to downplay your abilities, at least a bit.
One common hobby that many Finnish people have is to collect stuff. Whether it is something small or big or something in between, you can always find someone who collects the same items like you. For example, in Finnish Huuto.net auction website there is over 250000 collectibles now being sold. Some collectables I’m aware of are:
- Bread ties
- Bottle caps
- Moomin cups
- Newspaper articles which have spelling errors
- Postage stamps
- Ice hockey cards
- Cartoon figures
- Glossy, often embossed, image (kiiltokuva)
- Old guns
Of course, I’m now generalising all this. Not all Finns are what I just wrote but sometimes you have to do stereotypes.