Tag Archives: space

Little parts of Finnishness

Travelling to and living in different countries can really make you appreciate the culture you have grown up with. At least for me that is the case. Listed below are a few “features” of Finnishness which I really appreciate especially compared to other cultures and countries.

Personal space

One unique feature of Finnish culture is the value of personal space, as shown in the picture below. This actually is a common sight at bus stops in Finland and it is hard for some people from other cultures to understand. A part of Finnishness is appreciating the quiet moments and not feeling the pressure to socialize if it is not necessary.

People can just quietly pass each other and still acknowledge the person they are passing,  in the Finnish culture, without it being considered rude. In some other cultures it is common to greet people on the street or  at the bus stop, this is considered common courtesy. For example passing a person in a supermarket at an aisle in the US, they would say “Excuse me”, this was strange to me because there was plenty of room for them to pass and in Finland people would just quietly pass behind the person.

This ties into the lack of small talk in the Finnish culture and a key part of Finnishness for me. People can take the same bus with the same people for a year and never talk to each other because there is no pressure for that. This might be perceived as shyness or being rude which might be hard to explain to other people. Instead it should be considered as a good feature in people, because once a Finn starts a conversation with someone else it usually has a purpose and is not just forced small talk. Also when asking someone how they are, a Finn truly wants to know how have you been and are expecting a better answer than just “good”.



The other thing I really appreciate in Finland is the nature. I know this is a common answer among Finns but there is not many places that have similar nature opportunities like in Finland. You do not need to go far to find a quiet piece of nature, even if it is just the park or a small patch of forest. There are always trails near by where you can for example take your dog for a walk and it is not hard to find.

The distinctive four seasons are also very valued here, even if the summer is short and winter is dark. I could not imagine myself living somewhere where I could not experience both the warmth of summer and the beauty of snowy winter.

These are the things that come to mind when talking about Finnishness to myself. I hope people visiting Finland get to experience these in a positive way and Finns remember to appreciate these features even in the darkest times of winter.


What comes first to my mind when I think of Finland and finnishness? Space.


Only five million people living inside 338 440,83 square kilometers means that there’s some space to breath – and space for our beautiful nature. If you want peace, there won’t be too many kilometers to walk until you find some!

Space came to my mind in other aspect too. We Finns have our own, special personal space around us, and we feel totally comfortable alone! Walking on the streets we avoid eye contact, and if someone dares to come too close, we will get stressed and annoyed. Overall we do not want to bother other people either, when doing grocery shopping we go through the cashier as fast as possible to avoid anyone behind waiting, and if we ever cause someone some extra waiting, we will be sorry and ashamed!


We do not want too much attention to be paid towards us – especially if it is something negative and to be shamed of. However being in the spotlight even in a good light is not something everyone of us enjoys. Better not to be seen at all! However we are very keen on praising on each other and love to point out good sides in we wee en other people, while criticizing something in ourselves in the same time.


This relates highly to the fact that we feel totally comfortable also alone. Then there’s no chance to get yourself into awkward situations!

Ok, this all can sound a bit harsh, there is a lot of truth in those facts, but a part of the truth is also that the Finns are a very welcoming folk – we love to tell about our country and we are proud of it. And we love to welcome people to visit us – the table will be full of food and you can be sure there’s nothing left of shyness as we get over the rust in the beginning. We’ll even invite you in our sauna – the relaxing spot you can find in almost all Finnish houses – and there the rest of the shyness is gone since all of us will be naked. Do not worry, after a couple of beers, “saunakalja”, you do not even notice it, we’ll end up so talkative you don’t have time to think your appearance.

screen-shot-2010-11-08-at-08-48-351    Savutuvan_Apaja_Sauna_Jyvaskyla_2


So, there were some facts about Finnishness that came first to my mind – there are so many aspects in us Finns that one post would be too long to write! We have some serious attitude and weird loner habits, and we might seem a bit grumpy too, but we have the ways to relax too and we’ll always make our guests feel a warm welcome!