Finnish Language and Culture

Finnish Language and Culture

There are values in the Finnish culture that are especially treasured and create the essence of Finnish being. You should know about these in order to be able to integrate in the society, a crucial part when looking for employment.

One big value is equality, men and women are on equal terms regarding their career, as well as home and family care. Trust is another value, trusting other people, but as well in democracy and the freedom of speech. This relates also to the value of honesty. Finns take promises seriously and believe in what you say is the truth. Discussions are straight forward to the point and there is little small talk. Silence is not regarded as awkward and speaking loud in public is seen as rude.

The Finnish society is oriented on individualism, the freedom of being who you want to be. As well as a perception of own space. Finns value their privacy and young adults are encouraged to live on their own and be independent.

Punctuality is a must in Finland for any appointment. It is better to arrive a little early than late. When you have an appointment at 10:00 but arrive 10:05, you are late. Modesty is also highly regarded, Finns do not want to stand out and they do not talk loudly, they are considerate about their surroundings. As a guest in a Finnish home you should take of your shoes at the entrance.

Nature is an essential part of Finnish culture and it is free for everyone to enjoy, respectfully. Many have summer cottages (Mökki), that often do not even have electricity or running water, in the middle of the nature preferably near a lake. Due to the everyman’s right Finnish people enjoy engaging in activities such as mushroom and berry picking.  The general public’s right allows an access to anyone living in or visiting Finland the freedom enjoy the recreational use of natural areas. Also disposing garbage in order to protect the nature is regarded as important. Read more about everyman’s right (Ministry of the Environment).

And of course, Sauna is a big part of the Finnish culture. It is a ritual of relaxing and quietness. Most Finnish people go to Sauna at least once a week. It is common to go to the Sauna without any clothes and it is divided between genders. Only in families, men and women go together to Sauna. In Sauna you sit on a small towel.

Finnish food is European and consists of typical items as fish, meat, pasta, potatoes, and rice. There are local variations, as reindeer meat is eaten in Lapland and more fish at the coastal area. Finnish people tend to eat earlier than in most European countries. The two warm meals, lunch and dinner, are eaten between 11:00-12:00 and 17:00-18:00. Finnish people drink a lot of coffee and it is common also for adults to drink milk. Eating and drinking out is more costly than in most European countries. Only light alcoholic beverages can be purchased at the supermarket. Others can only be purchased at the government regulated Alko store. Buying alcoholic beverages is limited by age. From 18-20 years you are allowed to buy alcoholic beverages under 22%, above 20 any kind of alcohol.

The most important holidays in Finland are Christmas (Joulu) and Midsummer (Juhannus). Most Finnish public holidays are Christian:

  • New Year, 1 January
  • Twelfth Day, 6 January
  • Easter: the date varies, in March or April
  • May Day, 1 May
  • Ascension Day: in May, the date varies
  • Midsummer Eve: in June, always on a Friday
  • Independence Day, 6 December
  • Christmas Day, 25 December
  • Boxing Day, 26 December

Read more on the Finnish culture and identity

ESR logo