Many are curious about the Finnish people and their traits. Since they have been the happiest citizens in the world for five consecutive years, should we expect smiling faces everywhere? How should we interact with Finnish people?
Myths online say that Finns are often charmingly peculiar. Some references say they are aloof and will refrain from physical contact when meeting them for the first time. What is the Finnish stereotype?
One thing is for sure: they love their natural resources sincerely. If you live in the 10th greenest country in the world, you should be! Finland values their breathtaking landscapes, majestic rivers, sparkling lakes, and more.
If you’re planning to study in Finland or visit the country as a tourist, you need to understand their culture and know the things about the Finnish people. Let us help you, so please read on!
Brief History of Finland
Before we introduce the traits of the Finnish people, it is essential to know their history first. Finns are proud of their heritage. They are resilient, and their country’s growth resulted from challenging events that strengthened the nation.
Finland successfully grew in the 1980s and became one of the strongest countries in the world in terms of economy. But during the fall of the Soviet Union, the country was also affected. Their economy crashed in 1993, and its welfare state lessened over time.
In 1995, the nation became part of the European Union for additional assistance and help. It started utilizing the Euro currency in 1999. Finland successfully grew again into a post-industrial nation from 2000 onwards. But in 2008, the global financial crisis affected Finland.
As the internet and mobile phones became in demand worldwide, products from IT leader Nokia were Finland’s most important exports. Aside from helping their economy, Nokia transformed the country from being an agricultural nation into a leading technology economy. Aside from Nokia, the government is proud of its talented citizens that introduced top innovations everyone uses globally.
Over time, Finland successfully established itself as one of the best places to live and study.
The Finnish people enjoy a great society, outstanding government, and modern facilities any citizen in the world will adore.
Things you need to know about the Finnish people
Now that you are familiar with Finland’s history let us introduce you to the surprising traits of the Finnish people. Remember these traits and tips so that you will have a pleasant life as a first-timer in the world’s happiest country.
Finnish people and their languages
1. Finland is rich in different languages because of its strategic location. Speaking in English is good, but, as a courtesy, you must learn basic terms and phrases in Finnish (Suomi).
2. A majority of Swedish-speaking people live in Turku and Espoo. Also, Åland island, located between Finland and Sweden, speaks almost 100% Swedish. Once you visit the area, you can practice your Swedish expertise and get to know them. There is also a Russian minority in Finland composed of residents and tourists.
3. Estonians work and live in the country. You may often hear Estonians talking gleefully anywhere. In Lapland, several indigenous people in the North use the Sami language.
4. Finnish people residing in populated cities are acquainted with a multilingual environment. For a student, visiting the Helsinki City Library is easy. It provides a website and learning references in English, Finnish, Swedish, and Russian.
Meeting Finnish people for the first time
5. Shaking hands is advisable when meeting Finnish people formally. Refrain from hugging and kissing on the cheek. A wave of the hand or a respectful nod is acceptable on a more relaxed occasion.
6. Finns introduce themselves by saying their first name and last name. Even if they have an official title, they don’t often use them during a casual introduction. Also, they will not be offended if you forget to address them by their names.
7. Finnish people will appreciate a distance of not less than one meter during a conversation. Being close may seem to violate their personal space and will make them feel uncomfortable. Note that this unspoken rule doesn’t apply to intimate communication.
8. Worldwide, “How are you?” seems acceptable to start a conversation with anyone. In Finland, citizens will be confused as they consider the statement a question that requires a proper reply. You may simply say “Hello” to start the conversation.
The best way to interact with finnish people
9. Most of the time, Finnish people communicate and share stories using a straight face. Giggling means they are enjoying the conversation. Finns will tell jokes to liven up the topic if they like you.
10. Finnish people are sincere. They are not fans of small talk and don’t consider silence in conversations awkward. They are also genuine and value what they say. If they invite you to meet again, expect a warm call.
11. Finnish people respect their personal space. It is their way of being polite to strangers. On a bus, they tend to occupy empty seats before sitting next to someone if no more seats are available.
12. All Finns practice modesty. They are humble and would not boast about their life achievements. You might even encounter and talk with someone at a social gathering and later realize that they are famous personalities in the region.
Finnish people and their food
13. Once in Finland, you can enjoy traditional Finnish food with Swedish and Russian influences. Their meal mainly consists of fish, pork, dairy products, and potatoes.
14. Finnish people love a filling breakfast consisting of sandwiches and porridge. They also like starting their day with coffee. They are the world’s largest coffee consumers. While studying or working, coffee breaks go well with a “Pulla.”- a bread sweetened with cinnamon and cardamom.
15. For bonding experiences, Finnish people entertain casually at home instead of having a formal dinner in a restaurant. They like to invite friends and acquaintances over to feast for brunch, buffet-style lunch, or dinner.
16. Vegetarianism is widely popular in the city’s capital. According to AP, Helsinki has already stopped serving meat during receptions, meetings, and seminars to lessen carbon footprints. In addition, oat milk replaced traditional milk.
17. From a Finnish point of view, leaving uneaten food on your plate is impolite. Make sure you only get what you can eat and put potato peels, fish, and meat bones in a small cup they provided on the table.
Hobbies in Finland
18. Finnish people love spending time in nature. They value their rich natural resources and take pride in protecting every inch of their country’s land and water.
19. Finns’ physical activity includes swimming, hiking, camping, hunting, sailing, golf, skiing, and ice hockey. For them, taking a break from the modern world is a great way to reflect and clear one’s thoughts.
20. Finnish people love spending time with their loved ones in summer cottages during spring. Families often own these cottages. Some can be rented and offered during midsummer.
21. For new students looking for friends, joining hobby enthusiasts, associations, and clubs is an excellent way to meet Finnish people. In addition, Finns love sports. They hugely support car rallies, ice hockey, and football.
22. Finnish people have an “Everyman’s rights” concept. The rule provides freedom to anyone to enjoy and roam in nature. It allows you to wander freely in forests while picking and eating edible mushrooms and berries.
Finnish people and their homes
23. Being invited to a Finnish home is a privilege. Unless stated in the invitation, dress casually and enjoy a relaxed environment. Once there, expect limitless food as they are generous hosts. Just be yourself and enjoy their company. The more comfortable you are, the more the host will value your presence.
24. Wearing your shoes inside their home is disrespectful. If you receive an invitation for a celebration in their residence, we highly encourage bringing two pairs of shoes: one for outdoors and another for indoor activities.
25. Recycling is a way of life in Finland to protect the beauty of their surroundings. Finnish homes diligently separate trash, bottles, cans, and biodegradable items.
26. Finnish houses are properly insulated and warm all month. Aside from heavily glazed windows and warm underfloor, their water pipes are insulated to enjoy hot baths and showers.
27. Once you are in Finland and decide to move to another apartment, leaving cabinets, shelves, kitchen, and floor in the best condition are advisable. Appliances such as the oven, stove, dishwater, and fridge must also be usable for the next tenant.
28. If you plan to live in apartment buildings, follow the rules. Finnish people are generally peaceful and would not make a scene if you break some regulations. They will just leave a note as a reminder.
29. Finland considers perfumes unnecessary. The majority are sensitive to artificial fragrances. If you decide to use one, please wear mild-scented cologne.
30. Finnish people are known for their punctuality. Whether you are meeting casually or for business, arrive earlier or on the dot.
31. If you are undecided on what to give to Finnish people for their birthday, the safest choice is anything coffee related. You may include tasty pastries and sweets.
32. Being invited to a party means bringing your drinks. Buying alcohol is costly in the country, so it is a courtesy for guests to bring along alcoholic beverages.
33. Finnish men and women enjoy practical clothes. This idea may come from an old Finnish saying, “Vain rumat ne vaatteilla koreilee” or “only ugly people need to dress up.” Finnish people are generally confident, and they don’t need fancy clothes.
34. In terms of saving money, Finnish people are frugal. They are masters in planning for their future with comfort. They think first before spending cash on anything.
35. In recent years, cigarette smoking has decreased in Finland. The country also has a law that prohibits smoking in workplaces and public buildings. Finns respect the rule and diligently follow it. They also consider cigarette smoking a harmful habit.
36. Finnish people go out romantically with one person at a time. Dating in Finland equals being in a relationship. Consider it a getting-to-know and casual meetup if someone asks you out.
Finnish people and saunas
37. Finnish people use saunas for social and business connections. Being invited to join a sauna is both a privilege and a treat. Declining the offer is considered rude, but Finnish people will surely understand if you have health reasons.
38. Saunas in Finland provide a quiet and peaceful experience to anyone. They are gender-separated, but some accept family members together. Most Finnish people are naked inside a sauna. If you are a first-timer, you can wear a bathing suit or a towel.
39. Once inside, Finnish people lie down or sit on a small towel to relax. Again, standing up is not ideal for first-timers as there will be more heat at the top near the roof.
40. You need to thoroughly wash your body first before entering a sauna. You can also stay as long or as short as you like inside. Once done, wash yourself to enjoy the refreshing effect of the sauna.
Finnish work culture
41. Finnish people are incredibly hardworking. They know that any goal is achieved through hard work and consider laziness a vice.
42. Though they put so much effort into their professional lives, Finnish people are not considered workaholics. They value relaxation and have a balance between work and their social lives.
43. At work, they don’t use their energy on idle talks. They focus on a given task to get it done immediately. Efficiency while working is essential for Finnish people. They do this to enjoy 39 days of holidays- the longest in Europe.
Gender equality in Finland
44. Finland offers high importance to gender equality. In workplaces and politics, women hold many high positions. They are valued for their intelligence and work ethics.
45. Finnish people are used to politically-correct languages. They replaced conventional masculine terms with gender-neutral words. Also, singular third-person pronouns are in both forms. A great example is using Hän, which is for both genders.
Seasons in Finland
46. There are four seasons in Finland. During summer, Finnish people take advantage of the warm weather by having many fun events everyone will enjoy. Expect music festivals, local markets, fairs, and more. You may participate in these social gatherings and make new friends.
47. During spring, Finnish people go to Lapland for ski breaks. The perfect weather from February to May is good for skiing and other physical activities. The resorts are flocked with happy people enjoying holidays from school and desk jobs.
Finland is an ideal place to live, study, and retire. They have an honest government, modern facilities, the best healthcare, world-class education, and more. Relaxation is also top-notch as Finns can simply visit its natural resources for a refreshing experience.
Aside from consistently ranking as the world’s happiest nation, expect a pleasant encounter with Finnish people any time of the day. Remember to always refer to this article for a pleasant stay in Finland.