My Narrow Slice of Finnishness

This blog post describes my view on the concept of "Finnishness". Sauna [ˈsɑu̯nɑ], nature, personal space and perseverance are things first in mind.

Even though around half of the Finns live in “big” cities, we do appreciate the nature greatly. A lot of people have hobbies which have something to do with forests or nature in general like fishing, orienteering, hiking, cross-country skiing, etc. I don’t really know why nature is so appealing to us Finns. Maybe it’s the peacefulness or the idea that it’s likely that no one will bother you there. Finnish people really love their personal space. At first Finnish people might seem grumpy and reserved, but once you get to know them they’ll be the best people to have around. Finland is known as the land of thousand lakes. We actually have more than 180 000 lakes, but most of them would be considered puddles by many people. Around 57 000 of them are bigger than a basketball field. If you are brave enough you might end up in a sauna by the lake… naked.


Many Finns have summer or year around cottages where they escape the city and other people. Some people call it relaxing but it’s far from it. You have to chop firewood, carry water to sauna, mown the lawn and make sure the cabin will stay up over the winter. Maybe in a way it is relaxing to get your mind of your regular routines and live a bit more primitive life. Perseverance here is the key I think. Voluntarily picking up more responsibility (even though just for a property) and doing more physical work in order to relax. And I have to agree that when you spend the whole day fixing all kinds of things around your cottage and finally you get to the point of heating the sauna up you feel euphoric. Usually after sauna it’s lights out. The biggest event you usually spend at your or someone else’s cottage has to be midsummer. It’s the celebration when the sun doesn’t set. Even in that sauna is present. Sauna is actually present in all events/parties/celebrations. Like Christmas. You can basically take any event and append the name with sauna and it’s a thing.


Saunas are so common in Finland that there is actually more saunas than cars. So are summer cottages. Most of which have sauna in or somewhere around them (preferably by the lake). But it’s not only the cottages that have saunas. Every apartment building has at least one. Usually there is one for every apartment block. And that’s not all! We also have many public saunas and rentable saunas. Even my university has one. Being so closed and personal space-loving we usually go to sauna naked. With strangers. Most people find this somewhat contradictory which I can understand. What I can’t understand is going to the sauna in swimwear or wearing a towel. Of course it is more comfortable to do so with your friends in a remote location where you can swim in the lake naked too!


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