Tag Archives: Finns

About Finnish Christmas & Nature

Finnish Christmas

Christmas is an important time for us to rest and spend time with our friends and family. It’s one of the most important holidays for Finns, I might say. People usually take at least a couple days off and many travel during that time. Usually to spend Christmas with relatives or to be somewhere northern to surely have snow on Christmas eve.

The tradition of a Finnish Christmas is, among other things, to give the gifts on Christmas eve, on the 24th of December. The eve is the most important day overall, usually. Of course the traditions vary in different families and yearly, due to work, for example. So, I speak from my own experiences and on the base what I’ve heard from other Finns.

Rice porridge in the making


Traditionally the 24th day starts with rice porridge and cinnamon. Sometimes we hide one almond in the porridge. It depends on the family what is the result of finding the almond. Sometimes it means that the one finding it can open one present or s/he has to sing a Christmas song. At our grandparents it means that the one finding the almond must do the dishes. So oddly, sometimes the almond is left undiscovered. 




Finnish Christmas food
Finnish Christmas dessert









As Christmas is a religious celebration, many Finns go to Christmas church on the 24th. Usually in the morning, sometimes during the day or at least to light the candles on the family graves. Many go to church’s events to sing Christmas songs before the eve as well.

The day is usually full of waiting and preparations for the night. Children’s task is to decorate the Christmas tree. Some do this before the eve though. We tend to dress up a bit fancy for the eve’s dinner. The traditional main dish is ham or turkey and different casseroles. In addition to these there are other food as well. In our family we eat lamb, fish and loaf. My personal favorite is roe, sour cream and red onion. For dessert we usually have cheese and fruits. As Finns tend to drink on the celebrations, it’s normal to have at least mild drunkenness from the wine and dessert drinks.  

If you have your own sauna, it’s normal to go to the Christmas sauna, naturally. If Santa Claus didn’t bring the gifts during the night between 23th and 24th, it’s expected to happen before the night of the 24th. It’s very common that families have a Santa visiting every year, especially in families with small children. Usually the Santa is the same person every year, someone who happens to be away every time Santa visits. Some people hold on this tradition even when the children have grown up and everyone already knows who plays the Santa’s role.

Christmas three & presents

The most awaited part is to give and get presents. It happens usually after dinner and lasts approximately one hour. The older I have grown the more joy I get of giving presents and from the time together with my family. And good food, of course. The 25th is a very laid-back day to spend with the family as well. We usually play board games and children play with their new toys. The food on the 25th is leftovers from the eve and of course all the chocolate and other delicacies all around the house. Additionally, one tradition many young people have is to go out with friends on the night of the 25th.



Finnish nature

The nature of Finland is one of my favorite things. Here we have something that every other country doesn’t – the variation with the seasons and the variability in the nature between the south and north. One upside in particular, to my mind, is the big size, tranquility and purity of most of our forests. We have our problems in Finland as well, of course, as clearcuttings. Still, overall, I think our nature is in good condition and there are good laws to protect the animals. When I was a kid and we lived in the countryside, I got to see a lot of animals while playing outside, mooses and foxes for example. 


Nowadays, walking in the forest or going to a cabin in the wilderness is an important way for many people to lower the stress caused by hectic work and school life. Even more than before, I think. Nature comes in the first priorities for many Finns.

Again speaking from own experiences, I really enjoy the nature of Lapland and Central Finland. The following pictures are from Central Finland, Hyrynsalmi from last summer. It’s the place for yearly Swamp Soccer World Championships, Suopotkupallo. Speaking of which, that is an event which wraps up a lot of Finnish culture. People playing football in a swamp in the middle of nowhere, usually drunk every day of the tournament. However, one of the very best parts of the yearly Swamp Soccer is to watch the sunrise at the lake after the tournament.



Finnish culture: the people

People make the culture – so what are the Finns like? The myth of the withdrawn Finn is still alive and well inside Finland, and Finns, with their self-deprecating wit, will be the first to let foreigners in on it. An example of a Finnish joke explains it well: “An introverted Finn looks at his shoes when talking to you; an extroverted Finn looks at your shoes”. In certain ways, Finns are pretty peculiar people and we secretly enjoy conveying that image of ourselves, even if it weren’t always true.

Finland is a country where considerable weight is attached to the spoken word – words are chosen carefully and for the purpose of delivering a message. Indeed, there are very few other culture-specific considerations that visitors need to be aware of. Finns place great value on words, which is reflected in the tendency to say little and avoid “unnecessary” small talk.

We really enjoy our personal space and we only hug people we are close with. Not to mention kissing someone on the cheek, since that would probably require a few vodka shots. And about that – Finns are world-renowned for their fondness for drink. The Finnish people also have a very distinctive way of getting hammered, which often involves copious amounts of alcohol drunk very quickly.


Painting with a broad brush, Finns take pride in individualism, moving on their own early compared to most other Europeans, taking pride in working from an early age and taking care of themselves all the way from young adulthood to old age. Speaking one’s mind and being honest and dependable are culturally valued traits. And lastly, Finns are not inclined to compliment other people for nothing; so, if they say something positive about you, you should feel flattered!

Finnish holidays

Each country has its own holidays, as well as Finland. Around the year Finns spend a variety of celebrations, some are known around the world, but some are Finns own story. Like everyone probably knows, Finland is located in north where the sun does not rise at all during the winter. Umh, and the winter lasts almost nine months in Finland… or at least the dark and cold time.

Fortunately, Finns have these holidays that cheer up in the middle of darkness and coldness. Okay, luckily we have also a three-month summer when the sun does not drop even at the night.

New Year’s Day

The very first holiday at the year is New Year’s Day. (First of January) The day, when everyone is tired of yesterdays celebrating and fireworks shooting. It’s also a day, when New Year’s promises keeping starts. Someones promises to save money, someones promises to start a diet. And very traditional Finn New Year’s promise is ”tipaton tammikuu”, it means that no alcohol in January. Good start for a good year!

Kuvahaun tulos haulle new year promise

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day celebrating hasn’t been very common in Finland expect for the last few years. But Valentine’s Day has become more commercial day, because Valentine’s Day gifts are bought every year more and more. In Finland, a day is usually celebrated with our friends or partner at the movies or eating. Sending Valentine’s Day cards is also common.



Kuvahaun tulos haulle valentine's day



EasterKuvahaun tulos haulle virpojatEaster is a quite big holiday in Finland in spring. Finns are not very religious nation, so celebrating is more for children. Traditional Finn Easter manner is wish another person health and happiness on Palm Sunday by tapping them lightly with a willow twig and chanting a rhyme. It’s usually done by children in quest for candy. A willow twig is decorated with colorful feathers and children are also dressed like witches or Easter bunnies. Traditional Easter food is lamb and Finnish Easter pudding, which is made of rye.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pääsiäisruoka


First of MayKuvahaun tulos haulle vappuFirst of May is common westerner holiday and in Finland carnerval for a workpeople and students. Usually celebrating happens in the cities downtown and everyone is wearing their graduation caps. Traditional drinks are mead, sparkling wines and shampagne. Funnel cake is also very own Finnish thing. Families with children are usually celebrating a day in carnivals and circus where balloons is a big thing.Kuvahaun tulos haulle vappu toriKuvahaun tulos haulle tippaleipä


Midsummer means fest of light and midsummer. Then sun doesn’t drop at all in Northern Finland. Midsummer sauna with bath whisk made of birch, bonfire and midsummer dances are very traditional manner in Finland. Almost everybody is celebrating it at their own summerhouse with family or friends. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol is always been part of Finns celebrating. Midsummer fest have also very old magic tricks and belifies. If you roll on grainfield at the morning dew, you can see in your dreams your future husband. It is also believed that drinking alcohol drives out evil spirits, and the harvest will be the better the more you drink.Kuvahaun tulos haulle juhannusHalloween

Celebrating Halloween hasn’t been very common in Finland, expect the last few years. It’s been more like remembering departed people. The most important symbol is grinning pumpkin. Departed people, ghosts, vampires, witches and black cats are also favourite symbols. Children usually wear ghost or other costumes and go door to door asking trick or treat.Kuvahaun tulos haulle karkki vai kepponenIndependent Day

Finland’s Independence Day is very important and big day for all Finns. Finland celebrates it’s 100th anniversary on 2017. Independence is still important to the Finns and touches us because we lost more than 60 000 soldiers, most of them was young men aged 20.Kuvahaun tulos haulle itsenäisyyspäiväTraditional Independence Day program include watching movie ”Tuntematon Sotilas” (”The Unknown Soldier”), that tells of the Finnish war against the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1945.

In the evening, the Presidential Independence Day reception is shown on the TV. There is invited almost 2000 guest in every year. Usually people admire the guests gowns and always vote for the ”Castle Balls” queen and king.Kuvahaun tulos haulle linnan juhlat






Christmas Eve and Day and Boxing Day

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulu

Christmas is the most biggest holiday in Finland. There is so much tradition manners and foods. On Christmas Eve usually families gather together and eat Christmas food. Christmas table’s king is absolutely ham! Also rosolli salad, rutabaga casserole, potato casserole, carrot casserole and salmon is very common. In the evening Santa Claus from Korvatunturi will visit and share gifts for children. Christmas carols, cards, costumes, get together and visiting in cemetery are traditional manners in Finland.Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulupöytä



New Years Eve

Kuvahaun tulos haulle fireworks helsinki

New Year’s Eve is a last day in a whole year. A day when Finns celebrate spended year. Shooting fireworks and pouring of tin in to water is traditional manner in Finland. Melted tin sets fast and the shape of tin tells you a lot of what is coming on next year. Maybe it’s a coin which means a lot of money or maybe it’s a heart and you will find a love. No one knows…

Kuvahaun tulos haulle tinan valaminen


I wish it was Finnish summer already!

It might often seem to foreign people that Finns are a bit cold and quiet people. I am not at all surprised, since we hardly ever speak to people we don’t know, especially to foreigners. It is very common to us to travel in public transportations and not say a word to one another but that is just the way we are; we like our own space. I don’t think it is because we are cold, it is just that we are a bit shy and might often have preconceptions, especially for people from other countries.

I think it would be very helpful for us Finns to get out of this country to travel. Once we open our eyes to other cultures, we can learn and enrich our way of seeing things. Then we might understand why we can seem a bit odd folk to some foreigners.

In my opinion we are ultimately a friendly and kind nation, if you only give us time to get to know us.

Nevertheless, I love my home country. It is in my mind a safe haven. In Finland we recently celebrated our 100th anniversary of Independence. I am thankful and proud to say that I am a Finn. We have a beautiful nature with all four different seasons. My favourite season is the Finnish summer, which is always too short in my opinion. People are the most energetic and generally just happy in the summer time. Summer is the time when people spend the most time outside, enjoying the long days with lots light and warm weather. There are a lot of things to do for people in the summer. You can enjoy different events through the summer all over the country, for example different music festivals.


Summer and Sauna

In the summer we Finns spend a lot of time at Summer cottages. We spend all day outside enjoying the sunlight; go to the lake fishing, do gardening, grill food, warm up the sauna and sometimes also “palju” if you happen to have one in your summer cottage. The Finnish sauna has a sauna stove that warms up with wood and fire. “Palju” in other hand usually looks like a big barrel that is filled with water that you also warm up with fire and wood. It is really kind of like a hot tub but outside, which is really nice since you get to enjoy the beautiful summer nights sitting in the tub.

Picture 1. Midsummer Eve’s night.



Every summer we Finns celebrate Midsummer at the end of June. Midsummer is one of the main national holidays in Finland. In midsummer Eve we celebrate the “nightless night” that basically means that the sun is up almost through the whole day and night. In the northern Finland the sun doesn’t go down at all. Midsummer is typically spent with family and friends at a summer cottage away from the cities. Midsummer traditions consist of lighting bonfires by the lake, going to sauna, barbecuing and playing different games outside. If you happen to stay in the city in Midsummer, it might feel as if the cities have been abandoned since almost everybody leaves their homes to go to the cottages.

Midsummer is usually seen as the beginning of warm summer weather and many Finns start their summer holidays on Midsummer Eve.

Picture 2. Midsummer Eve’s bonfire

Finnishness to me means mostly peace and the feeling of being safe. The Finnish nature is unbelievably beautiful and unique. It keeps on surprising you every time.

I wish it was summer already!


Feelings of a Finn

Finland is a beautiful northern country full of nature and free space for everyone. During everyday life in Finland, there are some feelings that aren’t so easy to understand, until you feel them by yourself. Those feelings may be weird, surprising or just funny, but you can experience them just because you’re living in Finland. Here are few examples of them:

– When you go outside of the town and feel the complete quietness

Sometimes it’s amusing to go to outside of a big city and realize that you are completely alone in there. There may be just tens of kilometers of road surrounded by forests until the next city.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle forest road finland

– When you feel it’s too cold outside

Sometimes during the coldest days of winter, you go outside from the door to the freezing air and get the instant feeling that you just want to turn around and go back inside.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle blizzard finland

– When you haven’t seen sunlight in a whole day

Sunlight in winter is not so easy to get if you’re not outside for a whole day. At the northern parts of Finland, the sun doesn’t even rise at all for few weeks in winter.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle sunset finland lapland

– When you go swimming in cold water after Sauna

When you go straight from 80 degree sauna to swim in a frozen lake and get that feeling when your heart pumps faster than ever before.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle ice swimming cottage finland

– When you like to eat something that doesn’t look so good outside

You may like to eat a black sausage made from pork and pig blood, which looks more like an ordinary sausage that has just been in a grill for a little too long. Or at Easter, you may get some ‘Mämmi’ as a dessert, which doesn’t look so tempting dish.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle black sausageKuvahaun tulos haulle mämmi

/Pauli Suurpää

My beautifull Finland

I’m sitting on our terrace, enjoying the last beams of today’s sunshine, drinking tea. Coffee would probably be more Finnish but I just hate it (bad Finn). You can smell in the air that summer has slowly started turning into fall. I think today has been one of the last warm days of this summer, nights are already getting colder and darker.

Yesterday I was picking cloudberries in a nearby swamp and the day before chanterelles in the woods, that means that fall is definitely on its way.

I was born and raised in Ostrobothnia. I have always lived near nature and nature has played and will play a huge role in my life. Since I was a kid I’ve been playing in the forest, exploring, collecting berries and mushrooms, hunting and hiking. I have grown into it and it’s just a part of our normal life at my childhood home. Now when I’m a bit older I’ve started to respect all this. I have realized how special and unique Finland’s nature is and that is why I want to write about it. Our nature is the thing I’m most proud of and I think It should be cherished.

When I think about Finnishness, the first thing that comes to my mind is our beautiful nature. We have clean and fresh air, lakes, forests, four beautiful seasons, hills, rivers and the list goes on.

I also think that many aspects in our culture are bonded to nature. Many traditions and old sayings come from nature or are otherwise related to it. In the very old Finnish mythology there were own gods/spirits for the forest and water and so on. And there was also different kind of meanings for seeing some animals or hearing them. Nature was kind of worshipped in the old mythology, and some sayings from the old times are still alive. Like “Anna Ahti ahvenia”. Which is asking Ahti, the god of water in the old mythology to give the fishermen perch.

Of course those old beliefs are long gone, but as said you can still hear some bits of history nowadays in the sayings especially with the elderly.                                         


As an amateur photographer I don’t think that I’ll ever get tired of our views. I could probably write a novel about this subject so I’ll just stop now. You just have to come and visit to see our country with your own eyes.

Okay, now I have told you what I love the most in Finland and a small bit of what being Finnish is to me. So now let me tell you something about the people in this country.

Finns are quite hard to get to know first. We don’t open up straight away, and we definitely do not open up to strangers. We have our own personal space and we like to keep it personal.   Chitchatting is awkward and there is no need to talk if there isn’t anything meaningful to say. Things are good the way they’ve always been, and if there’s something new to try, it better be very good to be accepted. Finns don’t talk in the buss, in the lift or in any other situations where you have to be with other people unless they must. We drink coffee and vodka, and eat karjalanpiirakka. Everybody skis in the winter and -30 degrees isn’t a problem. When it’s 15 degrees it’s bikini weather.

Soooooo, those might be the  few things that come to mind when people think about Finns.  The truth is that we’re not like that. Not all of us at least…  We can seem a bit antisocial first but don’t let that scare you, we are nice people. If you want to play it safe meet a Finn in the sauna or while they’re drunk. Sauna is a place where everyone are friends and there isn’t a care in the world.

All in all Finland is an amazing country. The surroundings are great, the people are great and I haven’t even told you about our cities, design or technology or everything else that is Finnish.

Welcome to Finland!

Finnishness – some viewpoints

Usually Finns are described as honest and quiet -even passive people which avoid contact. In some level descriptions are true but there are some exceptions, this post is about those. Here are some situations which proves these exceptions are real.

Ability to form group

As I mentioned social skills are not actually something we are known for but even Finns are communal. We can actually feel cohesion among strangers and maybe even without interaction with each other’s. Don’t believe me? Let me tell. Finns are quite passionate about winning and ice hockey is a great example. In indoor ice rinks there is nothing else needed than presence and you are part of a group (some fan clothes etc. are a great addition too). However Finns are also very capable to increase team spirit by loathing the opponent together (and NB this requires interaction!).Jääkiekko katsomo

One more example of forming group: common struggle. So we are not good small talkers but when we have a common problem like a bus which is really late we find our lost communication skills. Normally so quiet and passive crowd is now intense and communicative. People are complaining and trying to solve the problem together. Of course after the problem is handled the crowd goes back being quiet and passive but for that little moment everyone are social and part of that group.

Active nation

Finns are respectable active when it comes to discounts, sales or getting something for free. Inequality is increasing but still we don’t have that big income difference and Finland is a welfare state. However when a shop called Tokmanni gave free buckets there was a storm because of the multitude. Our grocery stores have big advertisements claiming for sale and people rush in to buy just anything with a sale sticker on it. The most amusing part is that sometimes the value of the sale is something around 20cents (Of course there are actually good discounts as well).

tokmanni jonotus ämpärit

There are actually many different associations compared to the population in Finland. The population is 5,4 million and we have approximately 135 000 registered associations. For example many villages have their own association. Along with assosiations we have many diverse unions like trade union or Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. Nowadays social media like Facebook and Twitter make it possible to form different groups and communities and those are also quite popular. To mention one there is a closed group called Äitylit in which mothers share their life with each other by asking for an advice or sharing pictures. Even before the era of social media Finns were really active with all kinds of forums sharing questions and opinions.

All in all Finns are actually quite communal and social nation, just a little different way than some other cultures.

Finnishness Documentary

After spending a lot of time quietly observing the land and its people it became quite clear that the Finnish people were directly shaped by the Finnish land, and the peoples nature reflected the nature of the land.

These Finns are quiet and reserved people, just like the long Finnish winter is quiet and cold. The Finn escapes the long dark inside itself, this leads to the Finns introverted nature.


The Finns are a steady and trustworthy lot. This they have learned from the wind-swept rocks and rocky islets that face the north wind with steadfast determination.

Some Finns have even started to mimic the rocks themselves and appear stone-faced and cold.


There are hundreds of more similarities that could be drawn between the nature of the Finn and the nature of Finland.

The Finns dark sense of humour that reflect the deep dark lakes, (and black coffee).
The unrefined and unapologetic disposition of the Finn that reflects nature in its honesty and sincerity.

But lastly I want to mention the Finnish summer. If one manages to endure the winter of a Finns friendship he might be rewarded with the overabundance of the Finnish summer, when the sun never sets, one is never in want and life is a never ending party. But just like the Finnish summer the happiness of a Finn is a short lived thing and usually by morning comes the merciless hangover and the Finn reverts to his quiet and reserved nature.



Something about Finnishness

Finnishness is a combination of many characteristics and stereotypes. These are my opinions about Finnishness and I am proud to introduce myself as a Finn and also tell people about these characteristics when I’m travelling.

Finns are punctual and honest people especially when it comes to business life. People arrive to a business meeting 5 to 10 minutes beforehand and if something is agreed you can trust that the Finnish business partner keeps his word. Don’t be hurt if a Finn address you with your first name since that is the common way to address even strangers. In business life you might call your manager with his/her first name and that is totally normal.  You might also want to know that Finns don’t brag about themselves and usually success should be kept to yourself because otherwise someone might feel bad or even jealous.

People really appreciate their personal space and you should remember this because otherwise a Finn might feel uncomfortable. Using a public transportation is a good example. You shouldn’t stand too close to the person next to you at the bus stop and also everyone likes to have the seat next to them free if there only is still room in the bus. Oh, and small talk is sometimes difficult for Finns so you can try to speak about the weather if the person next to you doesn’t look to indifferent and is willing to continue the conversation. It’s funny how this personal space and inability for small talk doesn’t apply in sauna. Finns turn out really social in sauna and I don’t really know the reason for this.


Finnish nature is clean and really one of a kind because its four seasons. In the fall season you might be delighted with all the fall colors that you can see in the leaves and also in the ground. In my opinion Finns hibernate during winter because people usually stay at home when it’s cold, snowing and dark outside. On the other hand, this is the best time to play ice hockey which seems to be the Finnish national sport. Spring is the second best season because you can see more and more light and you can go outside without freezing. But Finnish summer is the best, people are more positive and they’re spending their leisure time outside for example in their summer cottages or at festivals.

Finnish food is something really special. We seem to love salty liquorice and rye bread. These are the foods I usually miss when I’m travelling.  If you don’t want to shock your foreign quests I would say tasting Karelian pasty with egg butter might be a good start exploring Finnish cuisine rather than make them taste for example Mämmi. Mämmi is rye pudding and people usually eat it with cream and sugar.