Tag Archives: finnishness

Finnishness in me

I have always struggled with the fact that I’m only Finnish and both of my parents are from Finland. I have felt that something is missing in me because I have the passion of different cultures and languages. When I was younger I was little a shamed even of my Finnishness and I thought that I will move out of Finland the minute I turn 18.

Still I stayed here and I have learned to love my Finnishness inside me. I have discovered that I can always learn about new cultures and see the world by traveling. Now days I like to tell the positive aspects of Finland rather than the negative which I did a lot in the past.

I have spend several periods aboard and home is Finland to me. I still want to move somewhere for few years but I want to built my family here in Finland. I think Finland is safe and great place for children and you can always travel to get new experiences. The Finnish weather is unique because we have all the seasons. Summer nights are something that I love and there’s no other than midnight sun that you can’t experience in many countries.

Finnishness

Finland is the happiest country in the world for four years in a row by the United Nations World Happiness Report. We often hear foreigners as well as Finns being surprised by that. However happiness is not measured by how much people smile at stangers or make small talk with them. Happiness in Finland means having close friends and family and spending time with them. Happiness for us is having fresh water, free education and good healthcare system.

 

Finns are often described as shy and grave but we actually are nothing but. Sure, we usually aren´t that talkative with people we don’t know but when hanging out with close friends it´s a whole other situation. When travelling abroad it´s easy to get to know people but they rarely become your true friends. Whereas in Finland you really have to make an effort to make friends but when you do, the friendship is for life and they would even take a bullet for you. 

Many people mention the nature when speaking of Finland and it was the first thing that came to my mind also. Finns love to spend time at their cottage in the lap of nature but they often also love to go to festivals and spend time among other people. In my hometown Helsinki and in my study town Tampere the restaurants and terraces are always full of people. Helsinki and Tampere are lively cities that have a lot to offer.

The most Finnish sentence by a survey made by Menaiset.fi is ”Ei minua varten tarvii keittää” which means ”No need to make (coffee) just for me” and that summarizes Finnishness perfectly. In that sentence come up Finns´ love for coffee and their modesty. Finns don’t know how to receive compliments or certainly not how to compliment theirselves. Finns´ greatest trait is definitely their honesty. Finns often take honesty for granted and are surprised when people abroad don’t always mean what they say. Finns´ honesty reflects also on the trust and respect in the authority. Especially during corona it´s became clear that Finns follow the rules even tho its not mandatory. 

Finns are proud of their origin and get very excited when Finland is mentioned abroad. We are proud of our little Northern country with language like no other. We enjoy the little things like good weather and company of friends. We love to travel around the world but are always happy to return home. All in all Finns should acknowledge that the Happiest country in the world -title is right and be really proud of it.

Sources:

https://www.is.fi/hyvaolo/art-2000006220523.html

https://www.visitfinland.com/fcb/news/finland-named-the-happiest-country/

https://www.facebook.com/finnishnightmares/

Backbones of Finnishness

Ah, Finland. Home sweet home. Being Finnish is definitely something I hold in high value. But if I’m being completely honest, that hasn’t always been the case. Most of these blog posts have many reoccurring themes: nature, mökki, sauna. All of these are things that wee little me hasn’t always been able to appreciate. As a child, going to the mökki and spending time in the nature were short of being the worst thing imaginable. I’d rather have been cooped up inside in the city. But times change and people grow. Nowadays I can definitely say that I enjoy all of those things. Those were just some crude examples, but the point is that my view on being Finnish has evolved as I have matured. Seeing the world has shaped my perspective, increasing my appreciation for Finland.

I appreciate Finland’s relative safety. Being able to mind my own business anywhere, any time of the day, in any state of mind. Not having to tape my windows and protect my car when the typhoon season hits. Being able to park that car on the side of the street and still find the windows intact the day after. Not having to fear my encounters with law enforcement end up as a trip to the coroner’s office. Never having to stress over finding my loved ones under a pile of rubble from where our home stood before an earthquake. I can confidently say that in a world of danger, Finland is amongst the safest places you could think of.

In addition to safety, I highly value freedom. The ongoing pandemic has shown us how free we actually are. We have certain rights which are protected by our constitution, much more so than in other “free & democratic” countries. The freedom and safety that have been bestowed upon Finland are of course of major influence when it comes to contemporary Finnish culture. For example, the freedom to roam and the ability to enjoy our surroundings without fear feed into the fact that things like nature come up as a reoccurring theme when talking about Finnishness. In a way freedom and safety act as the backbones of Finnish culture; without them, there wouldn’t be a Finland as we know it.

My experiences of Finnishness

I am originally from Germany and moved to Finland almost four years ago. For two and half years l lived with a Finnish host family. This time, as well as my Finnish friends whom I met while studying majorly, account for my experiences of Finnishness.

I had never really been aware of my own culture. It was only when I moved to Finland that I noticed differences in peoples’ behaviours and thought patterns. In the following I will go through few elements of Finnishness that were particularly remarkable to me when I first came:

Finns find joy in calmness, appreciate their personal space, take time for themself, are pretty straightforward about most things while being humble or modest people. This shows in many everyday situations. Let’s take travelling by bus as an example – the picture below tell more than words (and as communicating with as few words as possible is part of Finnishness, I will adapt 😉)

Finnishness in free-time activities is basically divided into three different yet somehow connected major themes:

  • Drinking: longdrinks or the famous karhu beer in combination with a visit to a karaoke bar or drinking lots of black coffee eventually in combination with ice cream or a munkki)
  • Nature: Finns are very sportive and active people and also I have learned to enjoy spending my free time taking a walk in the forest or spending the weekend at the cottage (as far away from others as possible😉)

  • Sauna: warning: the above-mentioned need for personal space and privacy does not apply here! Sitting naked and sweating in a tiny hot room packed with people is an important part of Finnishness. Going afterwards for the mandatory swim in a close-by lake (regardless of the outside temperature) defiantly requires (at least for me) Finnish perseverance or so-called sisu.

 

When moving abroad and starting to recognize differences in culture, behaviour, attitudes, etc. it is easy to stick to one’s own culture yet it is especially then important to remember to stay open to and observe the culture while then picking the best parts of the culture and adapting pits and pieces to make it your own.

My thoughts about Finnishness

I have lived in Finland my whole life. Finnishness to me means a lot of different things. Mostly it reminds me of a safe, peaceful and beautiful home. To get the best picture of what it means to me, I’ll list a couple of things below.

  1. Beautiful and fresh nature

I have lived my childhood in a place where the forest with its lakes has been right in the backyard. Now when I live in a city, nature is still not far away. In Finland you can go to enjoy the nature without going far away. You can escape the real life hassle at any time which I love about Finland. It is also true Finnishness if you are able to be prepared for any weather here in Finland. In the same day it can be cold, windy, rainy and sunny…

I would say most Finnish are nature loving and we enjoy going to the cottage at summer and going to sauna and the lake during winter. We also enjoy our own peace with the most important people around. The calmness that the nature brings is good for our soul.

  1. People

Finns are quite modest. We appreciate what we have, the beautiful nature, a country where we can live in peace and where we do not have to fear things as we may need in some countries. Finnish people usually speaks about things that are essential in the specific matter and that’s why we don’t consider silent moments awkward. When you are in a public small place as Finn, we consider that we don’t have to say anything to others. I would say Finns are thoughtful, trustworthy  and straight forward, however we are still quite private people. We usually don’t have the need to be sharing everything about ourselves and we rather listen to others. We like our personal space.

Fun facts:

  • We don’t like to talk money related things.
  • We eat everything on our plate.
  • Being naked is not always sexual (sauna time).
  • We drink way too much coffee.

 

Finns are special. Or are they?

“Finnish culture is so unique!” Why is it always the Finn who brings this fact up and not the foreigner? Also, why Finns do not like to talk about themselves and are generally quite reserved, but when the conversations’ focus shifts from individual people to one’s culture, the quiet Finn rises from the corner table and talks hours on end about our sisu, sauna and Koskenkorva? This picture sums up my thoughts quite well. Our culture is not in the minds of foreigners even though we believe so.

 

In regular conversations about Finland, the most common topic Finns bring up is how Finnish language is among the hardest for foreigners to learn, as if it would be some kind of trophy to be proud of. The funny thing is that this notion among Finns is not even true. Recent study has shown that Finnish is not considerably harder to learn than other languages. The misconception of “Finnish being hard” in itself causes the language to become hard to learn for some because it discourages them to even begin. While it is true that a new language completely different to your own might be difficult to learn, it is far from impossible like some Finns boast.

This is not to say that our nation wouldn’t be unique from the rest. The sheer fact that our country is over one thousand kilometres long guarantees that there’s bound to be many distinct sub-cultures which makes our culture as a whole very diverse. There are many things in the Finnish culture none other culture has, but in all honesty, which culture is not like that? All cultures are unique in some way, Finns just seem to make a big deal about it.

Also, Finns laugh at foreigners for believing that there would be polar bears here. In fact, there are at least two, in Ranua zoo. Who’s laughing now, Finland?

-Arttu

My Experiences of Finnishness

As a Finn myself I have always somewhat resented the Finnish person stereotypes. Shy, reserved, quiet and cold (unless there is Koskenkorva). This is partly due to not being able to relate to them, but mainly because they all seem quite negative. They make us Finns seem like boring, unadventurous people, which most know; we are actually far from. I mean come on! We sit in a 100 degree room butt-naked, beating each other with twigs, just to minutes later jump into a freezing pile of snow. And this is just a basic Sunday.

A few years ago after backpacking on the other side of the world, I found a new perspective to look at all these stereotypes. I soon came to realize that all of those adjectives also have a brighter side. Maybe we are not shy – just observant. Maybe not reserved and quiet – just independent and respectful of peace and boundaries. We are not really cold – but appreciate honesty and authenticity, which we would like to identify before warming up. Koskenkorva is a nice way to start the party, but not a necessity for us to have a laugh. In fact, Finnish humor is one of a kind, and our close relationships warm and jolly.

In Finland we value our nature and family, our cultural roots and individuality, our education and health, our achievements and overcomings, and peacefulness and safety. The four seasons, sauna, our hockey team, summer cottages, salted licorice, lakes and forests are just some of the most beloved Finnish gems. All in all, Finland is a beautiful country with a great story, and us Finns are more than the age-old clichés. As with all other nationalities, stereotypes are often over-simplified generalizations that can be cracked beyond the surface.

 

Of “Finnishness” and the escape of small talk

Finland. My home that is now two seas away. Country of thousand lakes surrounded by green forests filled with mushrooms, berries, wildlife, and pine trees.

Long winters have over time turned warmer making them even darker while urbanization has in most cases made the distances between neighbours shorter. People still have the need for their personal space, so they are eager to escape to their happy place at the countryside summer cabin whenever possible. The long distances of rural past not long ago have given people a healthy do-it-yourself mentality compared to many of the other Europeans. They often prefer to do quite a lot themselves instead of buying a service. Traditionally out of necessity, but now to prove themselves, to save money, or just for a hobby. Self-service mentality rules at restaurants, and pub culture is only taking baby steps. Due to long periods of freezing weather, even friends just walk past one another on the streets only quickly nodding their heads to each other instead of stopping for a small talk. When you keep moving, there are better chances of not getting frostbitten toes, and the Finns are aware of it. They will see each other when the weekend comes at their common friend’s place for board game and beers. They rather gather around at someone’s flat than go to pub where music is too loud, beer is expensive and both (the music choices and the tap beer) suck anyway. At the friendly gathering they can have the questioning where they were heading the other day (in case they can’t naturally pick up a more meaningful topic) while enjoying their time at much more comfortable setting than would be commercially available.

PHOTO: H. Myllymäki – While his Scottish neighbours use a service to take care of their garden that might be available just by asking from the landlord, a Finn gets a lawnmower and has uniquely ugly patch of grass on his yard. In addition, he also records his own sound effects instead of using a commercial sound bank, thus tying work and “pleasure” together on the same sunny afternoon.

There you have it. The basis of what makes Finns appear untalkative, grim, socially awkward, and generally bad people by the standards for social situations in many other countries of the world. Why the streets are empty after six o’clock on the weekdays and you can fit into a pub on the main street after nine on a Saturday night. Whereas truly I’d say, Finns just don’t have a culture of hiding behind empty words such as a phrase “professional standards” at a commercial company selling a service for a mundane job. To me, that’s the essence of so called “Finnishness”.

What Finnishness is

When people hear about Finland, they think about snowy winters,  vast forests, endless amount of lakes, the Finnish sauna, the almighty Nokia and probably even polar bears (yikes). These things are mostly nature-related but I think the true Finnishness is in our personality. We have great national pride and that really shows when we achieve anything significant.

Everybody unites at the point of victory and even though we might be regarded as a tad shy and quiet, nobody is quiet when we qualify for European championship in football or win the ice hockey world championship. That’s the moment when everybody unites and celebrates as a one big group, which is the purest form of Finnishness if you ask me.

Even though the Finnish bureaucracy might be annoying at some points, travelling around the world has shown how well everything works in Finland (except VR), and that’s something we should be proud of. As some wise guy has once said “It’s a lottery win to be born in Finland”!

My thoughts about Finnishness

When I think about Finnishness, I think about people who are at first reserved and quiet, but when you get to knew them better, they are social, warm, trustworthy and the most honest people you’ll ever meet.  I also think that Santa Claus, snow and the northern lights are things that Finland is famous for.

As a Finn I love nature, silence and sauna. Especially in the summer when you can run straight from the Sauna in to a lake or the sea. It is the best thing about the Finnish summer. I also love Ice swimming during the winter time.  I love the Finnish nature and I believe we have a lot to see in Finland. During the summer time the archipelago is enchanting and in the Wintertime Lapland is a winter wonderland with snow and the northern lights. The thousand lakes, forests and national parks are worth to visit, there you can get closer to a Finnish mindset.

                                 

Finns appreciate personal space and private time, so if your Finnish friend needs some time of their own after a long weekend trip, give it to them. We are not angry, we just love spend time alone sometimes,e specially after social events.

Finland is a very safe country. As a woman I can walk alone in the city at night time, it’s very usual in Finland. My Spanish friends were borderline angry with me when I left club and walked home alone. It also didn’t help that I tried to explain them that I do this every time in Finland. Small children may also walk alone to the School and back, and it’s completely normal in Finland.

I can proudly say that in Finland we have safe environment, quality education, high equality and we can trust our government and police departments.