For me, Finnishness means a lot of different things, but the first thing that came to my mind is the dramatic contrast between seasons in the wilds of Lapland.
Spring brings finally back the light and life after a long, harsh winter. The first rays of sunlight glister on the snow, the snow melts away, and the birds sing. This time is great for snowmobiling trips across the ice of the still frozen lakes and rivers, forests or over fells.
As summer comes closer, the nights get lighter day by day. The landscapes that were just a few months ago covered by ice and snow turn slowly green.
When summer arrives, so do the countless mosquitos and the time of the nightless nights starts. This time of the year is excellent to experience the wilderness of Lapland by trekking or other means of outdoor activities.
The first frost and the shorter nights mark the end of summer and the start of autumn. Now it is time to harvest the berries and mushrooms in the forest. The landscapes change colour from green to shades of yellow, orange, red, purple and brown. This phenomenon is called Ruska. Nature starts to prepare for the coming winter, insects disappear, birds such as the swan head direction south.
With the first snowfall, the landscapes begin to turn white, winter is here! Winter is the most extended season in Lapland. Christmastime is the darkest time, there are only a few hours of daylight. This time of the year is excellent to observe northern lights across the sky.
When someone comes up to me and asks me where I’m from, I automatically answer “I am from Finland. You know, the country up in the north. Near Sweden and Russia.” After hearing that, people often look at me slightly confused. I don’t look at all like a typical Finn. I am dark eyed, have dark brown hair and my skin is a warm caramel tone. I am half Finnish and half Sri Lankan. However, I have lived most of my life in Finland. I own a Finnish passport and I consider myself very much a Finn.
I consider myself a Finn, because I consider Finland as my home country. I have grown up with Finnish culture and I can find some very distinctive features and characteristics in me, that all Finn have. Those features are what makes Finns special.
Very often Finns are described as introvert and shy. However, I find this to be just a wrong interpretation of character. To me, Finns are original. We are genuine. As people, Finns are very modest and feel more comfortable not being the centre of attention. I can relate to that. I see quiet, modest Finns as people who respect others and who are truthful and honest about how they feel. I truly admire this trait about Finns and feel sad that we are often wrongly understood.
Another thing about Finns, that is very distinctive, is our sincere love for nature. In Finland we are surrounded by outstandingly beautiful forests and lakes. We all love going to the countryside and having our own private moments away from the cities and having to be with other people. Finns enjoy simplicity and also need private space, which is very often something I can understand myself, since I feel the need for it too. Finns find beauty in the smallest of things and respect nature. That is something very true to “Finnishness”.
Finnishness is appreciation of clear water and clean air. Loving the summery field landscapes while on a road trip. Longing for quiet moments in the woods. Missing the seasons change. Finnishness is longing for the warm rays of summer sunshine, as well as the refreshing feeling after a summer storm. Finnishness is loving the new snow that twinkles and blue moments during winter. Sitting by a warm fire, huggled up in a knit and a pair of wool socks. Enjoying the soft warmth of the sauna. Finnishness is loving warm rye bread, milk coffee and Fazer chocolate.
With all of the things listed above, I think one of the most important aspects of being a Finn is how well educated we all are. Also, Finnishness is knowing how to live in a country with a culture where everyone has equal rights and people are treated fairly.
Things I got first in mind when talking about Finland:
Usually midsummer is rainy. No matter what. Even when the forecast tells you to get your bikinis, tan lotion and cold beverages ready – it is definitely going to rain. There is always a possibility to have a rainy midsummer.
For finns, the summer is warm when temperature raises above 20 degrees. I´m from west coast of Finland and it is always windy. The lack of mountains or even hills further enhances the effect of wind. But when the sun shines, it really shines. Still, the temperature rarely goes above 27 degrees.
Finland is a long land and when theres sunny in the north, there could be a blizzard in the east and on west there might be raining. You can never trust the forecast if you are travelling along Finland. There´s always a chance to get disapointed.Finnish nature is breathtaking. Nature is like big beatuful painting which is changing in every day and in every season. The colours are so bright, the lakes, rivers or the sea are very blue when the sun shines. In wintertime the outdoor living maybe is not so desirable, but the feeling after you were out and did some exercis
ing or just were walking around in the nature and then get inside to warm up or even in sauna it is definetly something that should be seen or tried when there are visitors from other countries in Finland.
What being a finn actually means to me is that there is always available good, healhty and fresh food, e.g. I love Carelian pies, Mämmi (porridge based on rye that is both bitter and sweet), different kind of porriges like oatmeal for breakfast. I usually bake during weekends when I have time to put my heart into it. I like to bake sweet buns with eyes of butter and sugar in the middle of them.
In the Autumns I usually go with my parents to the woods to harvest berries. We harvest mostly blueberries and cowberries. We also keep our eyes peeled for mushrooms, especially for chanterelles. It´s normal to have a large freezer which is full of garden berries and harvested berries from forests. Jams made of fruits like apple, strawberries and pears or plums are also very popular cause it includes the taste of summer even in the middle of snowy and cold winter. Nothing beats hot oatmeal with fresh berries sprinkled on top of it. It really makes the day.