Finland for internationals

Very Finnish Things

What things are very Finnish, you wonder? Well wonder no more since we have come up with a list of 8 Very Finnish Things. Enjoy!

1.) Sisu

You might know of the Danish hygge, right? However, in recent years media has been broadcasting Finnish ideology called sisu. Unlike hygge, sisu not about feeling comfortable or cozy or content but more like the determination to succeed and the endurance to withstand harsh times in life. There is no English word for it, which makes it difficult to translate.

Sisu is probably one of the most important core characteristics of Finnish people, and they are brought up to have it. In situations where one’s about to despair, a person might ask “where’s your sisu?” which can also be roughly understood as a cheer too (in a more sarcastic way). What sisu is not is ambition, so please do not mistake it for that. In a nutshell, sisu is about enduring through whatever hardships life throws at your and having the courage or guts to face the day.

 

2.) Not everything is salmiakki

Yes, the black and salty liquorice is very much loved throughout Finland and for some it is their go to sweet (although it isn’t really sweet). Candy isles in stores in Finland are packed with multiple varieties of this internationally unpopular candy. It is hard to say, why Finns fell in love with this particular sweet. Maybe it was something to do with our stereotypically serious personality. Foreigners should know Finns love to make them try it. You either love it or hate, usually it’s the latter.

 

3.) There are over 3 million saunas in Finland

Yes, you read correctly. There really are that many saunas in Finland. Taking into account the fact that Finland has the population of 5,6 million people the number of saunas compared to that is rather ridiculous. Saunas possess an important role in Finnish lifestyle and have played an integral part in surviving the harsh conditions of Nordic climate. You can find saunas in private homes, blocks of flats, terrace houses and public saunas both in swimming halls and sometimes in event venues too. Finns usually visit sauna once a week and sometimes even more in holiday seasons such as Midsummer and Christmas.

Typical rules of visiting sauna are: enter sauna naked after shower, talking is welcome but please refrain from yelling, and ask if it’s alright to throw water on hot stones (some might like lower temperatures). People sauna differently and it all comes down to enjoying breathing in the hot humid air and discussing how your week went and what’s going on in your life with your pals.

 

4.) National holidays

Much like every other nation in the world, Finland has national holidays which bring people together, and we would like to raise a few to a more general attention. Since some of these are celebrated globally you might recognise similarities with the holidays celebrated in your own country. Although some of these celebrations have religious roots, most Finns no longer see them as religious holidays:

Midsummer – Probably the most important celebration in the entire calendar year (feel free to fight me over this ☺). Midsummer, or juhannus in Finnish, is celebrated during the summer solstice and falls on the second last Friday and Saturday of June. Midsummer festivities vary a bit between the east and the west parts of the country. For example in the western coast one can find maypoles which aren’t set up in the eastern Finland. No matter the differences, sauna, bonfires, eating and midnight sun crown the celebration.

Vappu – Okay this is a bit tricky one since traditionally vappu includes only the first of May. However, in Finland vappu is usually celebrated during the 30th of April and the first of May. Much like Midsummer, this national holiday can be found celebrated all over the Nordic countries and some Central European countries. In Finland the last day of April is not an actual holiday and stores are still open despite the fact that festivities kick off that day in the late afternoon. This day is usually celebrated by students and be expected to see loads of university students strolling about the city centres wearing colourful overalls and Finnish graduation cap. The 1st of May is a holiday of the workers, and the streets and parks of the larger cities in Finland are packed with people either partaking in parades or enjoying a picnic with their friends and families.

Christmas – Christmas or joulu is another important holiday season. Much like other countries celebrating Christmas, the holiday is family-oriented. Food, Christmas broadcasts and tv shows, and Santa Claus or joulupukki in Finnish play integral parts in this nationwide holiday. In Finland gifts are divided on the 24th instead of the 25th, and the 25th is more like hanging out with your family and desperately trying to finish all the turkey or ham prepared the day before. Despite the fact that majority of Finns do not consider themselves religious, the larger part of the population remains part of the church and pay a visit to a sermon on the Christmas Eve.

Very Finnish Things Christmas Foods
Baking gingerbread cookies for Christmas

 

5.) Love for nature

Like other countries in the world, Finland is no exception when it comes to writing odes, songs and poems about nature and painting landscape art. The respect and appreciation towards nature is high and cherished. As widely known, Finland has four seasons and is home to over 180,000 lakes. The landscape is rough but breath-taking with its high peaks, lush forests and clear waters.

Seasons have their own characteristics and Finns take both the good and the bad in stride. Well, you sort of have to if you want to make it here. Winter brings bristling cold winds and heaps of snow. Temperatures may go as down as to -40 Celsius (in very rare cases), and sunlight during winter is scarce. In some parts of the North the sun may come up only for an hour each day.

 

Very Finnish Things Winter
In winter you can walk on the largest lake of Finland: lake Saimaa

 

Summers are milder in tempreture when compared with the central European countries. Often rainy and full of daylight, which doesn’t necessarily mean sunlight. There is phenomenon in the Nordic countries called the Midnight Sun or in Finnish kesäyön aurinko, where the sun does not fully set for the night painting the night sky in an array of colours.

 

Very Finnish Things Mighnight sun
Foggy midnight in Midsummer (Ruokolahti)

 

Very Finnish Things Beautiful Nature
Ollilanlampi pond in Kerava

 

Very Finnish Things Calm After Storm
Calm after storm

 

Autumn marks the beginning of more rain, the frost season, disappearing sunlight and slush. Seasonal depression is a thing that is caused by the decreasing amount of daylight. There are some positive sides to autumn as well. The brightly coloured leaves and harvest season bring a whole lot of enjoyment in this darkening season. Spring is much like autumn but instead of watching the nature die around you and feeling the cold icy weather approaching, sunlight begins to show up more and for longer and nature starts to come alive again.

 

6.) Jokamiehenoikeudet – every man’s right or the freedom to roam

People in Finland enjoy the luxury of jokamiehenoikeudet where one is allowed to roam free without disturbing their fellow people and surroundings. This right is also common countries such as the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries and some of the Central European countries. Please read further information by clicking the link: http://www.nationalparks.fi/hikinginfinland/rightsandregulations

 

7.) Moomins

You might have seen those benevolent hippo-like cartoon characters in the media. Moomins or in Finnish muumit (muumi in singular) were created by a Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson in the 40s. Originally portrayed in books and comics, Moomins have also been created movies and tv series such as the Moomin. These kind and naïve characters are held very dear in Finland and to find out more about them click on the link: https://www.moomin.com/en/history/

Very Finnish Things Moomins
Main protagonist of the Moomin series: Moomintroll

 

8.) Coffee drinking capital

No matter the size of the country and its population, Finland ranks #1 in having the most coffee drinkers per capita. According to an article published by The Guardian, on average a Finn consumes 12 kilograms worth of coffee each year. Finns drink mostly filtered coffee instead of espressos and lattes and the most popular brand in Finland is the domestic: Paulig.

If you’re interested, here’s the ink to the Guardian article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/countries-that-drink-the-most-coffee/

 

So here you have it: 8 things we consider to be very Finnish. We hope this post is found useful and let us know in the comment box below if you agree with our list. If you know any other very Finnish things, please share them with us. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more posts in the future! ☺ 



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