As I begun to think about Finnishness and what it means to me, I recognized that besides all its own cultural nuances and values it is also a part of who I am – it has obviously made an impact on how I view life and this world since I’ve lived in Finland my whole life. However, I do think that my love for Finnishness and observations on this matter have only grown and become clearer to me as I have traveled in other countries. Now I will do my best to try to explain how I view this subject that – to me – consists of so much more than just the beautiful lakes and forests and endless summer nights (which are, however, some of the greatest things in Finland).

To me Finnishness means simple living and enjoying the beauty of everyday life and its moments. At the same time Finnishness is full of controversy: in the darkest time of the year we tend to complain about it and it seems to me that almost everyone wishes to live somewhere else – but then in the summer when the sun barely sets we tend to boast about this country’s excellence; the cities keep on growing and developing – but yet at the same time we value the nature and most of us feels much more home in their remote cottages than in the big cities; internationally Finland has got quite a lot of attention considering for example our educational system and women in politics – yet Finns live quite humble and quiet life thinking that ”we’re not really that special”; and last but not least it is quite amusing how we try our best to avoid bumping into our neighbors – but then when Finland wins the championship in hockey we are the best friends with all the strangers in the streets. Surely this is just my experience about Finnishness but as a Finn I can definitely relate to these things.

So, if I try to put it shortly, I guess that I see Finnishness as a state of mind; as manners of talking about things and of treating other people; as values which are reflected in our relationships, our work-ethics, the nature and in our love for the simple things in life. I just love Finnishness – in all its silliness and melancholy and laid-backness and personal spaceness and readiness to work for the things we think are important – and all the things I can not even put to words. Finnishness is something who I am and I’m more than happy to give glimpses of it to other people as I travel the world and while I am as well seeing and learning from their cultures and values on the way.

(photos taken by Jessica Niemelä)


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