My Perception of Finnishness

Finnishness is a pretty broad concept by itself. I believe that everyone has their own perception of it, and that there is no simple way to explain it without experiencing it. However, after travelling around the world a lot and living in other countries like China, I've had to try to explain Finnishness a lot of times. The following will be my explanation on the key things of Finnishness that I always mention when someone asks about it.

The first thing that usually comes up when someone asks me about being a Finn is definitely the sauna culture. Saunas are an integral part of Finnish culture, with nearly every household having access to one. I even have one in my 60m2 apartment! Saunas are not just for relaxation but also for socializing and even conducting business meetings. Even though socializing is one of the things that happens in a sauna, silence is still fairly common. In the old days, sauna’s were even believed to have magical healing properties and were used to treat sick people. They were often the most sanitary spaces available. Finnish sauna culture reflects the Finnish value of simplicity, equality, and connection with nature. In the sauna, everyone is equal regardless of social status or background.

The next point I tend to tell people about Finnishness is the stereotypical behavior of a Finn. Finns tend to be quite reserved and humble. This is often seen from the sense of humor a lot of us have leaning towards irony, sarcasm, and self deprecation. Finns have a knack for finding humor in everyday situations, often using dry wit to poke fun at themselves and the absurdities of life to cope with hard times. This type of humor serves as a means of connecting with others, breaking the ice, and navigating social interactions with humility and grace. It’s a reflection of Finnish modesty and a way of downplaying one’s achievements or status, reinforcing the cultural value of equality humility. Despite their reserved nature, Finns use humor as a subtle form of communication, inviting others to share in their perspective and fostering a sense of camaraderie through laughter.


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