Local traditions and culture in Helsinki

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    Celebrating Midsummer night on Seurasaari

    by sinoda Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    As you may know Finland and other countries of the very northern parts of the world celebrate the nightless night called JUHANNUS in June (the date varies every year)

    Tourists in Finland at that time without bonds to finnish people may nevertheless enjoy this happening with others at Seurasaari. A small (culturally important) island in Helsinki. For more info see www

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    Some words about alcohol

    by sinoda Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    As you may already know Finns do enjoy the status of being a real drinking nation.

    That is to some extent true.

    In Finland legal drinking age and the age limit to buy alcohol in shops is 18 years. This is on one hand because of protecting the youth and on the other hand it should have an educative effect on Finns. (Relict of the prohibition law in the 1920s) And because of collecting taxes of course.

    That's why the finnish government has the monopole on selling alcohol. You may although buy beer and cidre in any food market, but vol.% will be less then 4,7.

    So there is the institution called ALKO, which is the only one selling all the alcohol in its 307 shops all over Finnland.

    Now, you may understand why prices are pretty high compared to for instance Germany or Italy.

    Get used it - we have. But there will be a time we will be laughing at this...

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    The girls and boys of Finland

    by TomTomi Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    What does a typical young finn look like? Check the link for a comprehensive collection of Finnish exhibitionists. Some pictures are rather raunchy...Others are... well, check for yourself. And yes, you must rate the photo so you can see the next photo! (Now, whose idea was this?!)

    Crash course in Finnish:
    "näytä" = show
    "miehet" = men
    "naiset" = women
    "vuotta" = age

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    cyclin/pedestrian lanes

    by call_me_rhia Updated Aug 21, 2010

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    Helsinki is a very bike-friendly city... there's plenty of cycling lanes all over. Most of them dub into pedestrian lanes as well, and everyone should stay in the lane they belong to.

    However some pedestrian lanes are on cobbled streets, which means it's not very easy to talk on them with a stroller with small wheels... it's normally better to walk on cycling lanes... but cyclists are not too happy about it.

    Sidenote: about every Finnish stroller is incredibly roomy andhas absolutely huge wheels...

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    2 x 1 if you have a baby in a stroller

    by call_me_rhia Written Aug 21, 2010

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    if you are in Helsinki with a stroller, and there's two of you, then only one person needs to buy a ticket to use the city public transportation - he second travels for free. This means buses, trams and the ferry to Suomenlinna. You pay for the water taxi, though.

    Pay attention on buses, though - only two strollers are allowed at a time, for safety reasons... so if here's two already, you're left to wait for the next one.

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    St Thomas Christmas Market

    by gordonilla Updated Dec 16, 2009

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    The market seems to have got better in recent times I am told; however I have also been told it is now very commercial with many more mass produced items for sale rather than the traditional hand made selection in previous years.

    It was a pleasant place to visit, especially as it was quite cold and snowy. It seems that St Thomas brings Christmas to Finland on the 21 December each year, with St Knut taking it away on 13 January the follwoing year.

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    Rally schools

    by csordila Updated Jun 26, 2009

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    Finland is well known of its world best rally heroes and of the racy gravel roads. The reason of this is, there are schools not only for people that want to improve their knowledge in handling cars, but for professional drivers and for drivers who want to be professionals as well.

    Finnish drivers have won the World Rally Driving Championship 12 times since the title was instituted in 1979.
    Several top Formula 1 drivers have also come from Finland, most notably Mika Häkkinen who was World Champion in 1998 and 1999 driving a McLaren Mercedes.
    Others include Keke Rosberg (1982 World Champion), J. J. Lehto (second at the 2003 Sebring 12 hour race in an Audi R8), Mika Salo, recent F1 phenom Kimi Raikkonen (2007 World Champion) and Heikki Kovalainen (2008 Hungarian Grand Prix).
    Finnish racing fans often fill a couple dozen charter flights to the F1 races.

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    Midsummer in Helsinki

    by csordila Updated Jun 25, 2009

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    Midsummer/Juhannus is a really important celebration for the Finns, this is roughly as big a holiday as Christmas is. Helsinki is going to be totally empty, people are at their country cottages and shops, restaurants are closed. So you should provide in time from your food and drink, if you do not want to spend much money.

    A traditional midsummer event is held at the open-air museum of Seurasaari surrounded by rural buildings, cottages and people taking part in this celebration are singing, dancing or playing games together. The highlight of the event is the lighting of a huge bonfire.

    You should postpone your visit, if you are not interested in taking part in this celebrations.
    However the time of the city is right in high summer, when daylight lasts for 20 hours out of 24, when the sidewalk cafes and the waterside markets are full of handsome people and when the pale blue waters of the lakes and the white bark of the birch trees match the national flag.

    An ancient belief says, young girls will meet their future husband jn the ongoing year, if they go and roll naked in a dewy corn field during Midsummer night. It may be true, because anything may occur on this magic night, as it has been written in the Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare!

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    Finns and the alcohol

    by csordila Updated Jun 24, 2009

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    Generally known, the northern folk do not despise the alcohol.
    The Finns are also not exception of this rule. Alcohol shopping in Finland is not a simple thing. Its vending is state monopoly: only Alko shops may sell wines and hard liquors.
    In the evening after six, when Alko shops close, it may be quite impossible to get your vodka, leaving the restaurants and pubs out of consideration of course. They however observe strictly the law: "We do not serve alcoholic drink to persons of age less than 18 years".

    The alcohol is for this reason everywhere very expensive, it is not possible to run away through a pint of beer under 3-5 Euros in an average pub. So provide in time from your evening drink, if you do not want to spend to much

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    Ice skating

    by yumyum Written Apr 25, 2008

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    In wintertime there is a big ice field on the square by the railway station. I don't know how much it costs but you seem to be able to rent skates there too. I first saw it after arrival after dark. During the day there are lots of small kids enjoying themselves.

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    The Senate Square as a Venue: Via Crucis

    by gordonilla Written Mar 24, 2008

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    Even after so many years of visiting Helsinki - I have continued to find different things to attend and experience. Over easter, I attended a performance of Via Crucis (Ristin tie - The Way of the Cross) which is an ecumenical play and has been performed 13 times before this easter time (2008).

    As ever the Cathedral Steps were a focal point - and with the snow falling and the strange lighting effects the scene was wonderfully set for the play.

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    by Gili_S Written Dec 25, 2007

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    One traditional occasion we have here in Helsinki every year is a Barfest, which means, participating pubs also offering us a free ride from pub to pub, so you can drink as much as you like and just jump to those buses for the next pub.

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    Helsinki slang

    by annase Written Nov 23, 2007

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    There are a number of slang words that are idiosyncratic to Helsinki area. The slang is based on colloquial Finnish with a large amount of words borrowed from originally Swedish and Russian, and nowadays English.

    Some distinctive words in Helsinki slang include:
    Stadi (Helsinki) (some people may say Tsadi)
    dorka (dork)
    duuni (work)
    mesta (a place)
    lafka (an enterprise such as a bar or restaurant)
    kosla (a car)
    luukku/kämppä (a flat, a house)
    steissi (a station)
    snagari (sausage stand)
    byysät (trousers)
    skoude (police)
    duunaa (to do, to make)
    dörtsi (a door)
    kelaa (to think)
    snadi (small)
    iisii (easy)
    dösä (a bus)
    spora/ratikka (a tram)
    bisse (beer)
    rööki (cigarette)
    kondis (condition, fixed)
    Voitsä duunaa ton kondiksee? (Can you fix that?)
    Bonjaatsä/Snaijaatsä? (Do you understand?)

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    Finnish language

    by annase Updated Nov 23, 2007

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    Around 90% of the residents of Helsinki are native Finnish speakers. There is also a small Swedish speaking minority, so if you speak Swedish you might be able to speak it at many venues downtown. At some stores like Stockmann, the staff have tags which indicate what languages they speak. Virtually everyone speaks English, and many speak several other languages such as Spanish, German, French or Russian. Most restaurants have menus in Finnish and English.

    Some useful phrases

    Yes - Joo/Juu/Jep/Kyllä
    No - Ei
    Hi - Hei/Moi/Moro/Moikka
    Bye - Ciao/Moi/Moro/Morjens
    Thank you/Thanks - Kiitos/Kiitti
    My name is … - Mun nimeni on …
    How are you?/How's it going? - Mitä kuuluu?/Miten menee?
    I’m very well - Kiitos/kiitti hyvää
    Do you speak English? - Puhutko englantia?
    I don’t understand - En ymmärrä
    Where is...? - Missä on...?
    Do you have...? - Onko teillä..?
    Entrance - Sisään
    Exit - Ulos
    Open - Avoinna
    Closed - Suljettu
    Toilets - Vessa / WC
    Doctor - Lääkäri
    Restaurant - Ravintola
    Beer - Olut
    Menu - Ruokalista
    Russian (adj) - venäläinen
    Swedish (adj) - ruotsalainen
    Finnish (adj) - suomalainen
    English (adj) - englantilainen

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    by marielexoteria Written Oct 5, 2007

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    The names of (big) buildings and streets are both in Finnish and Swedish, as Swedish is one of the official languages of Finland (but not in Sweden, go figure). You'll find the street signs and the recordings on the trams (and buses too I'd imagine, I haven't taken a bus there yet) in both Swedish and Finnish and their websites have a Swedish translation as well as the printed information at the sites I've visited.

    With that said, Finns (with no disrespect) don't speak Swedish in the capital so English is the way to go.

    I hope I haven't offended anyone with my observations.

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