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 one of the greenest countries in the world, you should be! Finland certainly 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 generally 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 certainly transformed the country from being an agricultural nation into a leading technology economy. Aside from Nokia, the government is surely proud of its talented citizens that introduced top innovations everyone uses globally.
Over time, Finland has successfully established itself as one of the best places to live and study.
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The Finnish people enjoy a great society, an outstanding government, and modern facilities any citizen in the world will adore.
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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 locals will certainly appreciate it if you practice and converse in Finnish/Suomi.
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2. The Finnish language is refined and economical. Finns can say more using one word. Also, it is logical and concise as each letter exactly fits one sound.
3. Swedish-speaking citizens live primarily along the Western coast, roughly from Vaasa to Turku. 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.
4. Estonians work and live in the country. In Lapland, several indigenous people in the North use the Sami language.
5. Finnish people residing in populated cities are acquainted with a multilingual environment. For a student, going to the Helsinki City Library is a great way to get study materials. The city and learning facility use English as an official language.
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Meeting Finnish people for the first time
6. 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 certainly acceptable on a more relaxed occasion.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. People from other countries or students from other countries often have to start a conversation with Finns. Finnish people are generally shy, so just smile and greet them with a friendly and positive attitude.
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The best way to interact with finnish people
10. Most of the time, Finnish people communicate and share stories using a straight face. Giggling certainly means they are enjoying the conversation. Finns will tell jokes to liven up the topic if they like you.
11. Finnish people are generally sincere. They are not fans of small talk and don’t consider silence in conversations awkward. They are also genuine and certainly value what they say. If they invite you to meet again, expect a warm call.
12. 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.
13. The majority of Finns practice modesty. Influential people in the country live a “normal” life using the same facilities and services as others. You might even encounter and talk with someone at a social gathering and later realize that they are famous personalities in the region.
14. Finnish people are intelligent and good conversationalists. Once you get to know them, they are excellent to talk with, and you will learn new perspectives. Finns are one of the most intelligent citizens in the world. They are generally consistent in expanding the borders of knowledge in introducing beneficial innovations to the world.
15. Finnish people enjoy a safe environment. Finland is known to be one of the safest countries in the world. With this, don’t be surprised if you see them leave their bags and other belongings unsupervised in public.
16. Finnish people are friends to keep for life! They may be shy at first, but once you bond, they are supportive, helpful, trustworthy, and reliable, and they have your back if you have issues.
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Finnish people and their food
17. Once in Finland, you can surely enjoy traditional Finnish food with Swedish influences. Their meal mainly consists of fish, pork, dairy products, and potatoes.
18. Finnish people generally 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.
19. Generally, Finns don’t enjoy sweets such as jams in their breakfast. They prefer an open savory sandwich with cold cuts, butter, cheese, and vegetables.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. Aside from water, Finnish people like pairing their meals with milk. The country is known to have the finest quality milk produced with more nutritional value. Dairy companies in the nation specifically invest time and research in product development. Finns enjoy lactose-free products with superior flavor.
24. The Finnish people love a classic Christmas harm during the yuletide season. It is prepared for hours and enjoyed with dried plums, peas, and mustard. Family and friends will feast on delicious ham throughout the season.
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Hobbies in Finland
25. Finnish people love spending time in nature. They value their rich natural resources and certainly take pride in protecting every inch of their country’s land and water.
26. 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.
27. Many families have a “family cottage” where all members like to gather, especially during summertime. It is where they bond and spend quality time together with their family and loved ones.
28. For new students looking for friends, joining hobby enthusiasts, associations, and clubs is an excellent way to meet Finnish people. In addition, Finns generally love sports. They hugely support car rallies, ice hockey, and football.
29. Finnish people have an “Everyman’s rights” concept. This right allows you to wander freely through Finnish nature and pick berries, mushrooms, and what nature has to offer. But remember to respect the private properties of others and never cause disturbance to the ecosystem.
30. All towns in Finland offer inexpensive but educational hobbies for adults. The learning center provides sports, cooking, IT, crafts, art, languages, and more.
Finnish people and their homes
31. Being invited to a home is a nice gesture worldwide, and Finnish hosts will appreciate guests that are respectful of their residence. Also, the more comfortable you are, the more the host will value your presence. If you want to bring something to your host, go with something food or coffee-related.
32. Wearing your shoes inside their home is disrespectful. If you receive an invitation for a celebration in their residence, please remove your shoes and wear socks.
33. 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.
34. 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. So no worries about freezing indoors despite the cold weather outside.
35. Once you are in Finland and decide to move to another apartment, leaving cabinets, shelves, kitchen, and floor in the best condition is a must. It is a part of the rental agreement. Otherwise, the owner may not return your caution, and you will pay for cleaning.
36. 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.
37. Most Finns are generally sensitive to the smell of perfumes. Please avoid wearing one at work or public functions.
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. In recent years, cigarette smoking has decreased in Finland. The country also has a law that specifically prohibits smoking in workplaces and public buildings. Finns respect the rule and diligently follow it. They also consider cigarette smoking a harmful habit.
41. Finnish people appreciate honesty in all aspects of dating, especially in romantic relationships. Be brave to ask a Finn out to get to know them more but be respectful of their personal space.
42. Birthdays are spent twice for Finnish kids. One celebration is for family, and the other is for friends. Adults generally celebrate during their 40th, 50th, 60th, and so on, but it is optional. Once invited, you can expect a relaxed atmosphere with good food to enjoy.
43. Aside from being the happiest, Finns are also one of the healthiest citizens. Their country ranks first for Environmental health with a score of 99.3%. In terms of air quality, Finns enjoy 98.8% clean air. Finally, the water quality in Finland is explicitly recognized for its purity, as it scored 100%.
Finnish people and saunas
44. Finnish people use saunas for social and intimate gatherings. Being invited to join a sauna is both a privilege and a treat, as they consider you a friend. It’s a pleasant experience and worth trying.
45. Saunas in Finland provide a quiet and peaceful experience to anyone. They are gender-separated, but some accept family members together. Additionally, most homes and apartments have saunas. It’s a place where they can relax and unwind after working the whole day.
46. Once inside, Finnish people lie down or sit on a small towel to relax. The best way to relax is to settle down anyway!
47. Also, you will notice that some like to go in the sauna, head out for a moment, have a cold drink, chat with friends, go back in, and so forth, especially if this is part of a social event with friends/family.
Finnish work culture
48. Finnish people are known for their punctuality. Whether you are meeting for work or business, arrive earlier or on the dot.
49. 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.
50. Finns consider evenings as leisure time. Generally, the working hours in Finland are 8 am to 4 pm, except in Helsinki, where they start at 9 am to 4 pm. After work, Finnish people enjoy spending time with their family and friends
51. 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.
52. Coffee breaks are essential social gatherings at the workplace. Staff usually have these breaks in the morning and afternoon. They use this time to bond with their workmates more sincerely and personally.
53. Finns are generally open to the concept of lifelong learning. Many tend to pursue their studies at a later age and aim at gaining new skills and expertise, maybe even changing careers later on.
54. Expect Finns to know much about business-related ideas as the country focuses strongly on entrepreneurship. The topic is widely present throughout school years (starting in primary school, when kids learn about creating businesses and so forth).
Gender equality in Finland
55. 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.
56. 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.
57. Finland has the best parental leave laws in the world. Both parents are given seven months of parental leave with allowances when expecting a baby. This privilege allows them to care for their newborn and share responsibilities equally.
58. Expecting mothers receive a maternity package from the government. The “baby box” doubles as a crib containing bedding, baby clothes, products, and more.
Seasons in Finland
59. 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.
60. 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.
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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.
If you plan to study in Finland, let us help you! Book a free counseling session now, and we will guide you toward the best education only Finland can offer!
About the writer
Mark has been a professional content writer for more than three years. He is an expert in creating articles about education and studying abroad. He has also written articles about financial technology, e-commerce, cryptocurrency, automobiles, public relations, and more. His writings don’t only inform, but he wants to establish emotional connections with readers.