Tag Archives: sauna

Finnishness for me

When I think about Finland, first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful nature we have here. Along with nature comes the peacefulness that you can find almost everywhere if you just walk into the nearest forest even during the busy times in your daily life. When I’ve been abroad, especially in big cities, it’s always the nature and the peace that I miss the most. During the summer, being able to just go swimming in the lakes is such a privilege. Also during winter being able to go skiing in the forest is such a pleasure and when I tell about it to my friends who live in abroad where that is not possible, they say it sounds like a thing you could only do when you travel somewhere for a holiday. Nature in Finland brings so much joy into my life here.

 

The second thing I love is the people. I love the way respect each other and especially respect each other’s privacy. I also don’t like talking much a lot with random people, especially small talk feels like such a waste of time, so I love that we don’t really need to do that here.

 

And I can’t forget about sauna. In addition to nature, it’s the thing I always seem to miss the most when I’m abroad. Especially when I used to live in a house where I had my own sauna, it was amazing that I could just go there every day if I wanted to. And even when I don’t have my own sauna in my house, I love that most buildings in Finland have a sauna that all the residents can use, which is also something my friends abroad are always surprised about. During winter, there’s no better feeling than going outside from sauna to cold weather and then back into the warmth of the sauna.

And one more thing, I really love cooking and grocery shopping in Finland. There are such big markets with such a big variety of different food products and also items from all over the world, so I love how easy it is to buy groceries and make your own food. Rather than having a culture where people eat outside often, I like that we don’t have that here because I enjoy making my own food the way I want to and I can invite people over to share it. When I’ve been abroad we mostly just eat outside with my friends, which is nice too, but I just can’t help but always miss my own kitchen and grocery store items when I’m abroad.

Finnishness

When I’m thinking about Finland and Finnishness, first things that comes to my mind is the beautiful nature of Finland and four seasons we have here. Finland is known by thousands of lakes, clean forests and fresh air. Finnish people like to go for a walk in the woods, camping and picking up some berries and mushroom from the forest in the autumn. I think that finnish people really respect and enjoy the nature but we’re also very happy to live in safe country where the education system usually works very well.

In winter we can enjoy snowy views and do wintersports like skating, skiing and snowboarding. The classic winter hobby is swimming in ice hole, which might sound grazy to someone non-Finnish. If you’re lucky, you can have a chance to see some northern lights especially in Lapland. 

Even though we have pretty long and dark winter here in Finland, the summer here is super nice, bright and sometimes also very hot. In summer Finnish people are used to enjoy cottage life, which usually includes sauna and swimming in lake. Many Finnish people love sunbathing and they really take full advantage of short summer. In midsummer the sun doesn’t go down the entire night and that is something quite magical. 

Finnishness

Finnish people like to go to the sauna and swim in the lakes. Sauna is really nice during cold winter days. Taking a dip in the lake is nice during hot summer days. Finland is a country with a lot of forest and potato farmers. That probably explains why Finland is known for supplying a lot of wood and vodka. Finnish is probebly the strangest language I have heard.

 

Gratis arkivbilde med arkitektur, avslapping, badstue

Finnishness

When I think about Finland and finnishness, first thing that comes to mind is winter, snow and nature. I’m originally from Lapland (hometown of Santa Claus) and I really like the real winter with lots of snow. Winter sports like ice hockey (especially when we beat Swedish), skiing and downhill skiing are important to Finnish people.  In Lapland, the nature is the most beautiful thing and many foreigners come to Finland to experience the Finnish nature. I’m happy and proud to grew up in Finland. Also sauna is a big part of Finnish culture and when I moved to Tampere, I didn’t have my own sauna and I really miss it. I completely understand why sauna is so important to Finnish people.

Finns are known as quiet and honest people who value their privacy. We are also hard-working, friendly and there is this thing called ‘sisu’ which means determination regardless of the cost and persistence.

All things considered, I’m proud to be a Finn.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

When thinking of Finnish culture, it is typical to immediately think of snow, saunas, and drinking alcohol… and that is absolutely correct. I am an international student so I have the perspective of coming from a different background and have the privilege of comparing that to my experience in Finland. While the above stereotypes are true, what I have loved the most is talking to the Finns.

Typically Finns are known for not engaging in small talk, and while that might be the norm, when they do the conversation is always hilarious or interesting. Additionally Finns with alcohol become very social and talkative, and even magically get the skill of speaking English if they couldn’t already! I find the drinking culture here the most shocking because while it might be more excessive than other places, Finns no matter what are kind and considerate. I can see why Finland is one of the happiest countries, if no the happiest!

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.

Finnishness

This blog contains my personal view of what it’s like to be a Finn. We are a bit shy and quiet around new people. But once we get to know each other better, we’ll be really forward and loud. We like to party, drink and go to festivals. On the other hand, we also like the silence of nature. Finland is a country with amazing forests and lakes. There is nothing better than having weekend at summer cottage by the lake with the people you like to be with. And for some reason fishing and having a beer after sauna gives me a peace of mind and I think I’m not the only one that feels this way.

I would also like to bring up sports that are also a big thing in being Finnish. We have a big amount of top tier athletes in different sports. But I think the best part is that you don’t even have to play anything yourself. When Leijonat was playing at the world cup or Huuhkajat finally got to Euros everybody was watching TV and cheering for team Finland. I myself like to go snowboarding and play football and ice hockey with my friends. Sports connects us and brings us together.

Refactoring the Finnishness

When one should describe the typical Finn, we often hear following stereotypical things. Finns are shy, they love salmiakki and sauna, and can overcome any obstacles with their strong guts (sisu). Plus, Finns love sauna and getting drunk. Speaking of alcohol, this is troublesome especially during the midsummer eve, as we love swimming too.

So there you have one version of traditional Finnishness. But is this really true? To be honest, in the modern society we don’t rely on stereotypes, at least we shouldn’t. We shouldn’t describe Finnishness by the book, but make our own version of it from own experience. That’s what I’m going to do.

juhannus

To me Finnishness means loving the nature, and being proud of ourselves/our customs. This might be due the fact that many countries don’t care/know about Finland, but when we are acknowledged internationally, we feel like achieved something relevant (We go to ‘torille’). Thus, we have formed a way to like the things we are good at like ice hockey. This can be seen, for example, in the latest UEFA 2021. Finland hasn’t been very good at football, but they did very well this year. Suddenly all Finnish people were watching and talking about football, even though they weren’t earlier into it. Paradoxically Finns are humble, but we secretly think ourselves better in some aspects. In addition to humility, Finns are quite law-abiding citizens, we respect education and our customs like sauna for example.

As the globalization has tied more countries together and mixed different cultures, Finnishness too has changed. Therefore, we all are not like described above. Not only due the globalization, but due the individuality in the center of today’s society – we want to separate from the mass. Not all Finns love sauna or drink alcohol or have a cottage to go during the summer. Some of us love living in the cities, brag about themselves, and might like things from other cultures closer to our heart. It all comes to our surroundings which make us what we are, and what we want to be like. We are influenced a lot by other countries and global trends, for example by American products, which changes ourselves and therefore Finnishness itself. This is by no means bad thing, it’s just the way it is.

In a summary, traditional Finnishness is about the stereotypes we all know. At its core, we are on a way to become this stereotyped Finn, because we are affected by our surroundings (our parents say that mämmi is good and make us eat it. So there’s potential we start to like it too). However, the globalization and our awareness of individuality has changed us to choose our own path, so Finns along with the Finnishness are constantly changing as they represent our people.

The most authentic part in Finnishness

One of the most authentic experiences I love about Finland and Finnishness is a proper cottage experience. The best Finnish cottage is kind a rough and simple cottage in the middle of nowhere on the shore of lake or sea. You should not be able to see your neighbors to be fully relaxed.

The best moments about being on the cottage are the evenings and nights on the warm summer nights when the sun does not set at all. You can sit on the porch with your friends and family all night and complain about mosquitos and how those creatures are the most useless things in the whole world. You can also just sit there quietly and sip your drinks and just listen the sounds of the nature. It is almost enchanting to do that, the longer you do are quiet the more sounds of nature you will hear.

 

To have a full Finnish cottage experience, sauna and grilling must be included in equation. After sweating in wood cottage sauna, a freshening dip into lake is on point. And again, the porch is playing major role also in sauna experience. You will come out, sit on some bench, and have a conversation like this; “Phew, the wood sauna is something else”. After that you put fire in the grill and grill sausages or something else easy to eat.

For me, these cottage experiences are must haves at least couple times in summer. It brings me to origin Finnishness, own peace, the most important people around you, surrounded by nature and calmness in your heart and soul.

Finland is a small country with a big heart

As a finn myself, I see Finland as a country of trust. That is the core and heart of our country and our whole society is based on that. We are really reliable, that makes us a little vulnerable and naive in some situations. I feel that finnish people often wanna believe in the good in other people. We are very optimistic about life and I think that is one of the reasons why Finland is often ranked as a happiest country in the world. 

Finland has an amazing nature! I can’t imagine anything better than spending hot summer nights on cottage, watching sunshine on the lake. Going to the sauna and jumping into the warm water to swim. Fully enjoying the moment with your whole body and mind. Finnish nature is something like any other.

Finnish people take care of each others. You can rely on people and promises are a very serious thing here – they must been kept.

Finland is safe – that’s the thing what can’t miss. You can basically walk outside any time of the day with minimum risk to get into danger. You can also let your kids walk to school on their own which is very unique thing on this world. You don’t have to be worried all the time.

Finnish people are often claimed to be shy, maybe even cold but I think that is really far from the truth. We sure appreciate our own personal space and silence is not feeling unnatural to us but that’s because we put a lot of value in every word we say to another person. Often we don’t say anything more, than it’s needed. We are really ”on the point” type of people. And I actually think that it’s one strength about us.

When you come to Finland, it is hard to miss the coffee culture in here. In fact, finnish people are the biggest coffee consumers on the world and you can notice it everywhere. We have coffee breaks at work, you drink coffee while visiting your friends or family, you have to get your morning coffee to stand up. Coffee is what keeps us finns up and going!

Last but not least – the sauna. There are saunas almost in every house or apartment building in the country – and we sure use them! It is our way to relax on the weekend – or just run away from cold weather. Finland is not Finland without our unique sauna culture. 

Finnishness is about trust, reliable people, coffee, soul-relaxing silence, amazing nature in the summer nights and of course hot saunas. Finland as a country is a home, place, where to feel safe and comfortable. Atleast for me.

Photos:

https://www.pexels.com/fi-fi/kuva/aamu-maisema-luonto-taivas-4081119/

https://pixabay.com/photos/bath-firewood-design-sauna-blow-1317997/

https://pixabay.com/photos/helsinki-cathedral-cathedral-church-4189824/