As someone who was born and has lived most of my life in northern Finland, two very distinctive aspects of Finnish culture and Finnishness comes to mind, Nature and Finnish communication and personal space.
From my personal experience I can say that especially in northern Finland, nature is a part of our everyday lives. The Finnish people have an innate connection to nature, embracing it as an integral part of their lifestyle. Whether it’s fishing on tranquil lakes or rushing rapids, trekking through dense forests, or enjoying the serenity of a snowy landscape, Finns find solace and inspiration in the great outdoors. This harmonious relationship with nature not only shapes everyday activities but also reflects cultural values of simplicity, mindfulness, and a sustainable approach to life. One of my favourite things to do is spend summer weekends with friends or family at a summer cottage out of the city near a lake and just relax in nature’s embrace.
The Art of Silence
Another distinctive aspect of Finnishness is how we communicate and value our personal space. Finns often engage in thoughtful, reserved communication, valuing the importance of choosing words carefully and allowing moments of contemplation. This quietude is a reflection of the Finnish respect for individual autonomy and the need for introspection. Unlike more overt forms of communication, this preference for silence is deeply ingrained in daily life, highlighting the Finnish reverence for privacy, personal boundaries, and a contemplative approach to human interaction. Embracing the art of silence fosters an atmosphere of mutual understanding and allows for deeper connections to form between individuals. This does not however mean that we wouldn’t like to have a chat with a stranger and these boundaries of communication become transparent when we get to know each other better. It is also important to note that the current generation of youth is much more open and better at communication as we have been influenced by the internet since we were kids.
Finnishness is a multifaceted gem, gleaming with cultural values, lifestyles, and customs that define the Finnish identity. The deep connection to nature and the art of silence in communication offer unique glimpses into the heart of Finnish culture. These aspects reveal a society that cherishes simplicity, values personal autonomy, and places well-being at the forefront of daily life. I could go on and talk about Sauna culture or Sisu, but I think its better to experience the sauna culture yourself and gain understanding through that, or observe Sisu in the people, art, music and history of Finland rather than have me put it into enigmatic words.