Local traditions and culture in Finland

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Finland

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    6th December - Independence Day

    by akkipaa Updated Dec 6, 2013

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    Finland is a young country. We belonged to Sweden since 1809 and to Russia till 1917, but when whole Europe was in war and Russia struggled with revolution our Senate of Finland faced the moment and gave the Declaration of Independence which was adopted by the parliament 6th December 1917.

    2012 we celebrated our 95 year of independence, and when our Labor Day and Mid Summer are carnivals 6-12 is different, it's quite serious to us.

    The tradition for many Finnish families is to light two candles in each window of their home in the evening between 18:00 -20:00 (I remember when young and my mother was a school teacher, I was quarding some 80 windows in the school building, hard work for a kid). It's the day to memorize our war heroes, those who have done a lot for our country, award some of us with Order of Merit and get a promotion in our Army (the other day for these are 4th June, the birthday of Marshal Mannerheim) if you have served well.

    Statue of Mannerheim

    We don't have many signs if independence, but the flag with blue and white colors and some newer like this beer! It's done by Olvi Corporation, a small but a stock company, located in middle of Finland (Iisalmi). The beer is hopped gentle without pasteurisation and is 4,7% strong (this is the strongest (we call it (tax) class III beer) which can be sold in markets here).

    The name Olvi comes from Swedish öl (beer) and has a long been a nickname for all beers, so you can say: "let's take some olvis" meaning let's take some beers.

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    General politness in Finland

    by WardrobeMK Written Jul 4, 2013

    The Finns (especially the older generation) sometimes come across as uncaring and cold. They are a reserved nation who only truly open up when they know someone personally.

    They do not generally do things like hold doors open for each in public. This is not considered rude, just normal everyday behaviour. So if someone lets go off the door and it slams in your face do not get upset, they've no idea what you're on about.

    Last week while on holiday I held a metro station door open for two guys who were struggling with push chairs and one of them said to me "I really wasn't expecting that!" They were genuinely surprised someone helped them!

    They also do not apologise if they step on your toes or bump into you in a crowned place/bus/tram or ram into you with their shopping trolley. If you say "sorry" do not expect a verbal reply or even a look.

    The shop assistants used to be silent as well, nowadays you get greeted in almost every shop and thanked when you pay at the till! They've obviously adopted an American service attitude and it seems to be working.

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    No need to tip in Finland

    by WardrobeMK Written Jul 4, 2013

    The Finns do not tip. Full stop. Not in restaurants, taxi's, hairdressers or anywhere else.

    Coming from a culture were tipping is a part of everyday life it might seem strange but they really do not do it. You can of course tip if you want to but it is not expected.

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    5th Feb - Flag days in Finland (establ. custom)

    by akkipaa Updated Jan 17, 2013

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    We celebrate Johan Ludvig Runeberg's Day on 5th February.

    Johan Ludvig Runeberg was Finn Swedish poet and national poet of Finland. As most our great heroes he wrote in Swedish, we got our Finnish poets a little bit later.

    Many of his poems deal with life in rural Finland. The best known of these is Bonden Paavo, (Farmer Paavo, Saarijärven Paavo in Finnish). I am not absolutely sure but this poem is probably the origin of Finnish "Sisu" (guts) and the Paavo from Saarijärvi was a person with Sisu. Runeberg wrote: "Three times, a frosty night destroys his crops. Every time, he mixes double the amount of bark into his bread to stave off starvation and works ever harder to dry off marsh into dryer land that would not be as exposed to the night frost. After the fourth year, Paavo finally gets a rich crop. As his wife exults, thanks God and tells Paavo to enjoy full bread made entirely out of grain, Paavo instructs his wife to mix bark into grain once more, because their neighbor's crop has been lost in a frost and he gives half of his crop to the needy neighbor.

    ”Vaikka kokee, eipä hylkää Herra" (Although afflict, not abandon the Lord) said Paavo.

    The most famous work is Fänrik Ståls sägner (The Tales of Ensign Stål, Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat in Finnish). The poem contains tales of the Finnish War of 1808–09 with Russia (remember, Finland didn't exist on those days, there were Sweden and Russia in the war. Russia won and took Finland under it's government).

    The first poem of Ensign Stål "Vårt land" (Our Land, Maamme in Finnish) is the Finnish National Anthem (composed by Fredrik Pacius).

    This day has got it's sign! Everyone buys some Runeberg's torte which is a pastry flavored with almonds and rum or arrack and it usually weighs about 100 grams. There is usually raspberry jam in a sugar ring on the tart as you can see from the photo.

    (There are two kinds of flag days, legal (or official) and days with established custom.)

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    The sauna.

    by cachaseiro Updated Jan 6, 2013

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    Nothing is more finnish than the sauna.
    You have public saunas all over Finland and you should never have a problem locating one.

    Be aware that finns have no problem being naked with complete strangers, so when you suddenly find naked people running around all over the place then this is totally natural to the people here and not sexual in any way.

    The sauna is really the heart of finnish culture and a very common place to socialise and have a few drinks.

    In the sauna.
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    25th December - Christmas Day

    by akkipaa Written Dec 25, 2012

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    Finland partisipated Second Word war in three different parts. We call them Winter, Continuous and Lapland Wars. All deceased war heroes were brought home and they we buried to home county's grave yard. Some they had to leave to battle fields, some couldn't be identified and they were blessed as left to battle fields and almost every grave yard in Finland has a unknown soldiers statue and special place, almost always in the best place of grave yard to all these heroes.

    Officially the order was to bury fallen soldier to battle field, but very large number of fallen were brought home. The man behind was referent Johannes Sillanpää who set up first evacuation center during Winter War and this idea was adopted widely in all of our wars.

    There are some days during year we remember them with candles and memorials: Independence day (6th Dec), Birth day of Marshall Mannerheim (4th June) and Christmas day (25th Dec). On Christmas day we take candles to all of our buried relatives and we can light a candle for war heroes and all those we died in Carelia area.

    This hero memorial is from cemetery of Orivesi and it's done by Carolus Lindberg.

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    The Everymans Right

    by gubbi1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    A custom in the Northern Countries is the Everymans Right. It gives the chance to everyone to enjoy the landscape and nature by roaming freely on any property, but here people have to pay attention to certain limits. As sometimes this right is missunderstood, the Finnish Ministery of the Environment has published a flyer explaining the everymans right. I recommed all of you, who want to go on an outdoor excursion in the Scandinavian wilderness to read this.
    Subjects explained are e.g.
    - open fire
    - boating
    - snowmobiling
    - hunting
    - fishing
    - picking berries
    - etc.

    Download the flyer as pdf by following the link below.

    Flyer:
    Editor: Pekka Tuunanen
    Translator: Fran Weaver
    Layout: Aino-Liisa Miettinen
    Illustrations: Pekka Vuori
    16th Edition
    ISBN 951-731-030-7
    Printed by Edita Ltd 1999

    Contacts:
    Ministry of the Environment
    P. O. Box 35
    FIN-00023 GOVERNMENT
    Finland
    Tel: +358-9-16007
    Fax: +358-9-1603 9364

    Everymans right in Finland, FI
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    Sima - A drink for Vappu (1st of May)

    by gubbi1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In Finnland it is a tradition to prepare Sima for the Vappu day. Vappu is on the first of May. In Finland this day is beside the day of labour, the welcoming day for spring and the main day for students of technical universities.

    Sima

    Place in a large bowl, preferably something with a tight lid:

    1 lemon's outer rind ("zest")
    1 lb. sugar
    1 gallon boiling water
    1 env. dried yeast
    juice from the lemon, raisins, sugar to add into the bottles

    Rinse and dry lemon, grate its outer yellow peal. Place in the container. Add the sugar and water. Cover the container and let the mixture cool. When lukewarm, add yeast and juice. Let stand for two days. Sima is then poured into bottles through a sieve. Add 1 tsp. sugar and a couple of raisins in each bottle. Cap each bottle tightly and place in a cool place. After about a week or two, the raisins will have floated to the top, which is a good indication that sima is ready for your enjoyment. So—enjoy! (Be careful not to let it ferment too long, or you might enjoy it too much!)

    Recipy taken from: http://www.kaiku.com/kutriskitchen.html#Sima

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    Lucia day, 13th December

    by Zirpsis Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is a nice tradition. Every year, a Lucia girl is chosen and she gets a candle crown on her head on a Lucia Day pageant on the 13th of December. This year's winner is the 22-year-old Marianne Ekqvist.

    If you'd like to go and watch: the crowning of Lucia takes place at the Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko) at 5 o'clock and the parade starts at 6 from the Cathedral and goes along Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie to Kampintori.

    Lucia brings light and hope to the darkest time of the year. There's also a special Lucia Day pulla (bun). The main thing about all this hullabaloo, however, is a fundraiser campaign by the people's health organization Folkhalsan. This year they are collecting money to diminish the number of traffic accidents because more and more people are getting injured. They are going to arrange traffic teaching for children, study environments, assess risk factors and suggest improvements and give reflective vests to the smallest in traffic.

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  • Wife carrying World Championships

    by maria_te Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The wife carrying world championships is an annual competition in Sonkajarvi, usually in July. This year was the thirteenth time it has been organised.

    Although you might think it is just a silly competition, wife carrying actually has roots in the history as it used to be a common practice to steel women from the neighbouring villages. Also, in the late 1800s there was a brigand called Rosvo-Ronkainen, who is said only to have accepted men, who could complete a challenging track into his troops.

    There are certain rules for the competition, about the woman you're going to carry, about the track and the obstacles. You can also participate in a team competition, in Wife Carrying Triathlon or in the 'Classic' race where you use the piggyback style.

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    Sauna - hot, hot, hot...

    by finlandia Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The real sauna can only be experienced in Finland, its country of origin. There are more than two million saunas (and only five million inhabitants) in Finland!!!!

    "Sauna" is the only Finnish word which has spread into most foreign languages including English and German.

    A Finnish sauna is totally different from the various sweat rooms found all over the world. A real sauna is a very hot (about 70-100 degrees Celsius, 160-210 degrees Fahrenheit) room in which you throw water on hot stones. Then you sit on the benches without any clothes and enjoy the purifying feeling. Males and females don´t have a sauna together in Finland (except a wife and a husband).

    For Finns the summer cottage with its sauna is the best place in the whole world. However, almost every family has an own sauna in a town, too. Nowadays even many people living in multistorey houses have own saunas. Houses have at least one sauna for the use of their inhabitants.

    Most hotels have a sauna, sometimes also for use of non-hotel guests.

    The Serena Indoor Aqua Park (20 kilometers from the centre of Helsinki) has good saunas, too.

    Sauna Bar in Helsinki (adress Eerikinkatu 27) has two saunas. One sauna for women and one sauna for men. Further details: http://www.saunabar.net .

    Café Tin Tin Tango has saunas which may be booked for 1-6 persons. Read more: http://www.aktivist.fi/tintintango .

    The Finnish Sauna Society (Vaskiniemi in Lauttasaari, Helsinki) has two wood-heated saunas, two special smoke saunas and also an electric city sauna. Saunas are open for Helsinki Card holders. Prebooking is obligatory. Many spas and spa hotels have very good saunas, too.

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    Tango

    by Bjorgvin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    It is not easy to explain why the tango has become so popular in Finland and continues to flourish there, while the rest of the world has more or less abandoned it. The tango is popular throughout Finland. Each year Finland crowns a tango king and queen who rule over the many tango events held throughout the country.

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    The Moomins

    by Bjorgvin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Remember the cheerful and chubby moomintrolls and their friends? The Finnish author and a painter Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was the creator of the Moomins. The first Moomin book was 'The Little Trolls and the Great Flood' (1945) and eight were to follow between 1946 and 1970. Those wonderful children’s books are an international success and have been translated into 34 or 35 languages.

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    Poro (Smoked reindeer)

    by Gili_S Written Feb 4, 2011

    Is some pubs, but very rare you can order such smoked reindeer snack, those are dry smoked reindeer or also salty dry moos is available if you would like to taste it. It will go very well with the dark smoked beer of course.

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    A 100 % free Finland Travel Club

    by finlandia Updated Mar 11, 2009

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    If you want to know more about Finland you can join in a free Finland Travel Club. All members get free e-mails with news about Finland, new links etc. There are excellent links on the home page of the club. They also answer your all questions about Finland or traveling in Finland for free (e-mail for questions finlandia@netti.fi).

    The Ultima Thule

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