When I think about ’Finnishness’ and Finnish culture the first things that come to mind are our appreciation for our ‘personal space bubbles’, respect for nature, and honesty.

Going down in order, the Finns generally appreciate being left alone and having space around them. Being touchy-feely, especially with strangers is downright frowned upon, and being given permission to be touchy with a Finn is a sign that they trust you and feel extremely comfortable with you. Surely most people have seen the pictures of Finns waiting for a bus at the bus stop with 2-meter spaces between them even when it is snowing. I feel like that picture describes the appreciation for having your own space perfectly, even if you get snowed on, you’d rather do that than stand a bit too close to others under the covering.

Respecting nature and spending time in nature closely relates to liking personal space. Hiking, gathering berries and mushrooms, and going out for picnics or skiing depending on the season are ways Finns spend time in nature while appreciating it. I personally very much enjoyed taking my aussie partner out for berry picking during the summer and giving them new experiences they had not done previously as nature in Finland is very different from what they have. Traditionally Finnish summer cottages with no running water are built in the woods near lakes where the closest neighbour and stores are quite far away. Spending time at the summer cottage not being in a hurry to do anything is a way to relax and spend time in nature. Most enjoy the quietness and relaxed atmosphere.

Saunas are often a feature in summer cottages and other Finnish homes that most Finns enjoy. I personally do not enjoy them that much, but I felt like it was my duty to introduce them to my partner as saunas are a huge part of Finnish culture. Neither of us enjoyed the sauna itself too much but the experience was valuable, fun, and a peek into what Finnish culture can be.

Finns are often described as serious, quiet, and hard to approach but that is not necessarily true. Finns can be seen as quiet as small talk is not a part of our culture and asking “how are you?” will probably result in them telling you how they genuinely are doing instead of seeing it as a greeting as it is in many other cultures. Finns are very honest and will tell how they honestly feel and then sit in comfortable silence instead of trying to fill the silence with small talk. Finns are genuinely warm-hearted and happy despite the lack of small talk in most situations.


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