I’m born and raised in Lapland and always when I’m met with the question “what is finnishness?” thoughts of perseverance, hard work and rough environment come first in my mind. The reasons behind these thoughts are hard to describe so I’ll approach this in a personal way so you might get a grasp of what I’m trying to bring through.
I think the source of these tough mental pictures lay in my grandparents and their upbringin after the wars. There is no visit to my grandma without her bringing up the Lapland War even once. Back then you simply couldn’t survive daily life without the perseverance we call “sisu”. My grandparents parents had to rebuild absolutely everything after Nazi Germans “scorched earth policy” and I believe that had multigenerational impact on those who stayed.
After this light background work it might be easier for you to relate to my grandpa. He started working in a steel mill when he was just 14 years old and worked there continuosly next 50 years until retirement. The working conditions were very crude and back then safety was more of an vague consept than real life policies and standards we have nowadays. Once he even described to me how his plastic helmet started to melt while he was shoveling molten steel. He also lost some of his friends working there. On top of hard work conditions he was a single father raising up my mother and aunt. Despite all of the hardships he must have faced he has never complained. Not once. And how could he when his parents had it even worse?
This stoic behavior of my grandpa is in essence what im trying to describe. The acceptance of your hardships and making the best out of it without complaints.
And the thing is it will be passed on to my mother and from her to me and so on. Everyone strives for the acceptance of their parents and try to make them proud so in a way even I am pushing on trying to reach those monumentally high standards of hard work and “sisu” my greatgrandparents set. This is my experience with one of the things that make us who we are as a nation. The finnish stoicism.