What does Finland and being a Finn mean to me? The answer is – if I dare say – something that a lot of Finns could very well relate to: sauna, sisu, lakes and rivers, lots of trees, silence, and space. A Finns favourite scenery often has water in it, be it a lake, a river or the sea and perhaps some trees or some other kind of vegetation. This isn’t surprising since Finland is often called The Land of a Thousand lakes. It does describe Finland well because if you’ve ever driven through Finland during summer, all you can see is blue lakes, rivers and green forests and fields passing by.
As lakes are everywhere, so are the summer cottages too. To me and a lot of Finns, retreating to the cottage during summer is a very important thing. The peace and quiet and the simple joys that the of the cottage offers is what makes them so attractive to Finns. Relaxing at the lakeside boating, fishing, barbecuing and most importantly going to the sauna and swimming are a must.
Sauna has been an important part of the Finnish culture for hundreds of years. It has been a place for bathing and curing different illnesses, but also a place where children were born and where the corpses of the deceased were taken before the funeral. Nowadays practically all houses and many flats have a sauna of their own and it is common practice to use it at least once a week.
I’m originally from Rovaniemi, and after moving to Tampere I have come to really appreciate the two extremes that especially Lapland can offer. Snowy, cold and dark winters and the warm, green summers with the sun shining the whole night through. The difference in the light in the summer is very noticeably compared to Tampere even though Rovaniemi is in the southern part or Lapland.
In this blog a lot of people have talked about the Finnish people and our nature which is often silent, sometimes even a bit awkward, shy and always very straight to the point. Maybe because of the harshness of the the environment we have had to live in we have had to develop a strong mentality of perseverance, sisu. It is an attribute that has helped us survive in the sometimes tough but beautiful nature surrounding us, but also other kinds of difficult situations in the past and the present. It is an positive attitude I can relate to and hold very dear, and I do think it somehow sums up what Finland and its people are all about.