What does Finnishness mean to me? When living abroad the things that were most visible in Finnish culture and the things (amongst many others) that I feel that I’m proud of are the possibility to get a good education for free and the attitude of “sisu” which is roughly explained as determination and perseverance. These things also go a bit hand in hand.
The free education that we have in Finland is really appreciated all over the world. And it is not just free, but it is really good as well. Everyone has an equal opportunity and also a responsibility to go to school and that means that everyone should have equal opportunities to succeed in life as well. And it is not just the basic education that is free, but our Universities also offer free education. You do have to qualify for your studies though, so it is not just an easy get away and a little work never hurt nobody. Our government also supports your studies with a monthly student allowance which gives the student an opportunity to finish its studies debt free and ready to face the world.
Sisu is something that I really value in the Finnish style of doing things. We learn from our mistakes and move on after we fell. The Japanese saying fall down seven times and stand up eight really defines the mind of a Finnish. If we decide to do something, we really make it happen. We are not quitters. And I believe that is valued in work life around the world as well. We are known to do our jobs well and not be slackers. That is something that I really appreciate in our reputation.
Finns are a winter sports people. Cross-country skiing is very popular. Ski trails to be found in Finland all over the country. This opportunity is excellent for a townie, as they can only pack the skis and rods to the car’s trunk, jump on the driveway and drive to the nearest landing location. They are easily found, for example, by the services provided by local authorities.
Ski trails are traditionally the knife blades that practice summertime running. The length of the loops varies, so the beginner and the more experienced knuckler can be found to be a suitable alternative. The municipalities run routes on the lorries, so the conditions are okay with a very fast timetable right after the snow comes down. Many enjoy the most from skiing in a tranquil environment where you can go in peace without someone receiving or interfering with skiing. Good places for such a situation can be found in rural areas or elsewhere in the sparsely populated area.
Ice hockey is very popular sports type. Ice hockey and its follow-up is a multi-Finnish winter hobby. The favorite team is closely watched. As the Finnish national team plays, the restrained Finns will be excited, especially if their success comes.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding are also very popular in Finland. In Lapland is many ski resorts. Southern Finland is also ski slopes, but they are shorter than in Lapland.
Nowadays, when there is not so much snow in the southern Finland in winter, skating has become more common. You can skate on the track or go farther to the lake to skate. Its very fun and fast.
I would say one Finnish thing is perseverance. Sometimes it is even funny when people just can’t stop doing something even if it’s little bit stupid to move on. Finnish people do what he or she has promised to do. And if there is obstacles Finnish don’t care, they keep going with this “suomalainen sisu”. There are examples when people have built their houses in very challenging places because “I want my home there even it is the last thing I am going to do in my life”. Finnish people are known for their perseverance and we have had for example success in sport because of it.
I think one of the reasons for perseverance is that we have had so cold and rugged nature that we just had to find our way to survive in this big country. And in war against huge Russia (or Soviet Union) we really need our perseverance and that’s why we are independent.
We have statue for Finnish perseverance and it is built on top of mountain in Lapland. And did you know we have even pastille named “Sisu”?
First sunny days
One thing that Finnish love is the first days in Spring when sun comes up. The whole long (and maybe dark if there isn’t snow) winter we just wait for the sun. Of course, it is lovely to have four different seasons but warm summer is something we really love. When there is first sunny days people become little bit crazy. Everyone get their grills out from the storage and suddenly there is plenty of barbequing stuff at all food markets. People find their summer clothes and bar terraces are full of half-naked Finnish enjoying beer. And summer flowers need to bring to the garden… There is always risk that summer ends short so we must take all the pleasure out of it right away!
Because Finland is very large country we have different food traditions in different parts of Finland. But there are some Finnish specialties that everyone should have tasted, at least one time in life.
Finnish rye bread is one thing Finnish people love. It is healthy, keeps hunger away and tastes good. My favorite thing is Karelian pie (“karjalanpiirakka”) which comes near East border. Karelian pie is special thin rye bread filled with rice porridge and typically you put some egg-butter on top of it. During Easter, we eat “Mämmi” which is black rye porridge. Typically, we eat it with cream but also vanilla sauce taste very good with it. And some people put also sugar on top of it. And from my city, Tampere, comes black sausage (“mustamakkara”). Typically, you eat it with lingonberry and cold milk.
Music education system
In Finland, we have exceptional music education system. We have this music school system where you can study music regardless of whether you are children or adult. Music schools can be connected with primary school or they could private schools that everybody can apply. Almost every city or at least municipality community there is music school and everybody has opportunity to play music if they want. And you can start playing even if you are adult. There is plenty of different kind of orchestras and choirs which you can participate, get new friends and meet old ones.
During the summer, there is so many different music camps and events that you can spend the whole summer vacation with music.