Today Finland will celebrate its 100th anniversary having gained independence on December 6th, 1917. After moving here from the United Kingdom, here are 100 weird and wonderful things I love about this amazing country that I now call home.
1. The Finnish language is practical yet poetic. The word for world is maailma, which means land (maa) & air (ilma).
2. You can eat sandwiches for breakfast and no one will judge you for it.
3. Finland is the most successful country in Olympic history in terms of gold medals per capita.
4. The average Finn drinks 12 kg of coffee per year, more than any other country on earth
5. Nokia 3310: the greatest phone of all time!
6. The air is so fresh and clean.
7. Karelian Pies are just so tasty! (despite they are not actually a pie)
8. Absolutely zero carpets in bathrooms (unlike in England).
9. 10:55 is considered an acceptable time to eat lunch.
10. Number of Finns = 5.5 million, Number of Saunas = 2 million.
11. If you go to Lapland you will immediately be surrounded by reindeer.
12. Greet a Finn with “How’s it going” and they’ll give you a brutally honest answer.
13. Darude is actually a middle-aged Finnish man from Turku.
14. The education system!
15. Savoury meat donuts, because why not?
16. The Finnish language has no future tense. #optimists
17. Despite not having a royal family, Finland has a king. His name is Jari Litmanen.
18. You get presents on Christmas Eve and Santa actually comes into your house with a sack of presents.
19. Tove Jansson’s Moomin children’s books are packed full of wisdom.
20. The magnificent Helsinki Cathedral.
21. When you go from an 80° sauna to a freezing lake and it’s not actually that bad.
22. Mikael Granlund’s ilmaveivi.
23. The text message (SMS) was invented by a Finn.
24. In Finland there is ‘no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing
25. Flag Days.
26. That feeling when you win money on a Veikkaus scratch card!
27. A Helsinki bus pass has a reflector on the back so the driver can see you in winter. #smart
28. The silence of Finland’s forests.
29. When a non-Finnish speaker is around, Finns will immediately switch to English because they’re polite like that.
30. Finns have a wickedly dry sense of humour.
31. The concept of Name Days exist, which sounds like something medieval or from Game of Thrones!
32. According to Monty Python, Finland is the country where I quite want to be.
33. If Finland wins an international event then torilla tavataan!
34. The weather is always perfect at Ruisrock??
Editor’s note: Sorry nope, but it is the second-oldest rock festival in Europe, so there’s that.
35. Finns love to party so much that they put the word in the plural! #bileet
36. During the summer holidays, children get a free soup lunch served in local parks.
37. Everyone has microwaved the cold coffee at the bottom of a Moccamaster at least once in their life. (See #4)
38. In Finland you congratulate someone on their birthday.
39. Länsimetro. #finally
Pic by Veikka Lahtinen
40. The word for dragon is lohikäärme, which means salmon snake, and that’s quite amusing.
41. When you survive another winter and everyone celebrates like mad at Vappu on the 1st of May.
42. Children don’t go trick-or-treating on Halloween but on Palm Sunday dressed as Easter witches.
43. Finnish kids love Hobby Horsing and they don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.
44. Strolling along the Aurajoki in Turku on a fine summer’s afternoon.
45. The “in-breath joo”.
46. People answer the phone with their name, even though they know it’s you who is calling.
47. Everyman’s Right, giving “people of all nationalities the right to enjoy the Finnish countryside freely.”
48. Mämmi. Looks gross, tastes great.
49. Jaloviina (obviously).
50. When the air temperature gets so low in winter that the Baltic Sea starts steaming like a cup of tea.
52. The Saimaa ringed seals.
53. In 2010, Finland had both a female Prime Minister and female President.
54. Europe’s first Bitcoin ATM was in Finland.
55. The Finnish language has 15 cases, which makes things rather complicated. For the record, they are nominatiivi, genetiivi, essiivi, partitiivi, translatiivi, inessiivi, elatiivi, illatiivi, adessiivi, ablatiivi, allatiivi, abessiivi, komitatiivi, instruktiivi, and akkusatiivi.
56. True friendship is slapping someone with birch leaves in the sauna.
57. Dave Cad & Cat Peterson, Anglo-Finnish YouTube power couple!
58. Finnish football commentators use noises to describe the action, especially oijoijoi when something exciting happens or then no-huh-huh in reflection of said excitement.
59. In McDonald’s you can have your burger with a rye bread bun.
60. Finns will form a long, orderly queue for anything that is free. Especially buckets.
61. Father Christmas lives here in Lapland.
62. The word for Wednesday is keskiviikko, which means mid-week.
63. Finland loves weird sports like swamp football, wife carrying, and boot throwing.
64. In addition to the above, Finland also hosts the annual Air Guitar World Championships.
65. And each month is given a different moon name. For example June translates to Summer Moon (kesäkuu), September to Autumn Moon (syyskuu), and December to Christmas Moon (joulukuu).
66. Finnish has over 40 words for snow but no word for please.
67. Every Thursday most restaurants serve pea soup and pancakes, and no one really knows why (but man, it’s good!)
68. in 1951, Finnish sports brand Karhu sold their three-stripes trademark to adidas for €1600 and two bottles of whisky.
69. Every time you land at Helsinki Airport it takes about 15 minutes from getting off the plan to reaching arrivals (including luggage pick up). #efficient
70. Everyone has about 10,000 Moomin mugs in their kitchen cupboards.
71. 17% of Finns are lactose intolerant yet the average person drinks 1 litre of milk per day, more than any other country.
72. The word for month is kuukausi, which means moon phase.
73. Summer road trips singing along to Leevi and the Leavings at full blast, even if you’re not going to Pohjois-Karjala.
74. In the northern Finnish town of Utsjoki, the polar night lasts for almost two months from late November until mid January.
75. All the best foods come in a box; porkkana, lanttu, peruna, makaroni (except maksalaatikko, which is not so tasty).
76. You must always drive with your car headlights on, even in summer where there are 27 hours of sunlight per day.
77. The Finnish languages does not use any articles yet it still manages to be rather confusing (see #55).
78. J.R.R. Tolkien was a huge fan of Finland. His elvish language was influenced by Finnish and he was inspired by Finland’s national epic, Kalevala, when constructing Middle Earth.
79. If you ask a Finn what they did during the weekend they will almost always reply with “nothing special”.
80. When Teemu Selänne broke the NHL’s rookie goal scoring record he celebrated by throwing his glove in the air and shooting it down using his hockey stick, and it was seriously cool.
81. The concept of suojakännit, which means ‘shield drunk’. and entails getting drunk the night before a big party so that when you go to the big party you won’t get drunk so quickly.
82. Restaurant Day, when anyone can open a pop up restaurant in Helsinki.
84. The word for hippopotamus is virtahepo, which means flow-pony.
86. Every single company summer and Christmas party will include either a sauna, a boat, or a cottage — and if you’re really lucky, all three.
87. Salty liquorice, known as salmiakki, is the most loved ‘candy’ and I have never met a single Finn who doesn’t like it. (I’m still not convinced)
88. In winter, 3pm feels like bed time and in summer it feels like the day has only just begun.
89. Despite having a reputation for being a shy and reserved people, Finns absolutely love karaoke.
90. Finnish couples will use two single duvets rather than one double duvet, and it’s a total game changer.
91. There is also a commonly accepted method of folding bed sheets that all 5.5 million Finns adhere to.
92. When you step onto the Silja Line boat to Sweden it’s like you’ve entered a magical, nautical version of Narnia where no rules apply.
93. Finns will repair/fix/build everything themselves and not ask for any help.
94. Kids and adults love reading the weekly Donald Duck comics.
95. From November to March the streets are covered in snow and ice meaning everyone walks like a penguin for half of the year.
96. In summer you can sit out having drinks on a terrace and completely lose track of time because it never gets dark.
97. When someone is sat next to you on the bus and then they go and move to a vacant window seat, you spend the rest of the day wondering if you showered in the morning.
98. In most languages the word for Finland is very similar (Finnland, Finlande, Finska), but in Finnish it’s Suomi.
100. And finally, I love that Finns are just way too humble to ever admit just how amazing (and kick-ass) this country is
Edward Ford is originally from the steel city of Sheffield who now lives in Helsinki, and is a fan of all things Finland. He’s a marketing strategist at Advance B2B, host of The Growth Hub Podcast, and former manager of the Finland Cricket Team.
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