Rovaniemi's best-known export on the international stage may very well be Mr. Lordi, the singer of Finnish hard rock band Lordi who shocked everyone (in more ways than one) when it won the Eurovision 2006 Song Contest with a song called "Hard Rock Hallelujah."
This accomplishment was enough to have the city rename Sampo-aukio, its main square, to Lordin aukio (literally, "Lordi's Square") in the presence of the band during summer 2006. The band members had their hand prints and signatures set in stone in a small monument in the middle of the square.
At the end of 2006, Mr. Lordi even opened a Lordi-themed "rocktaurant," but sadly it closed down in 2011, just a few months before our visit. (While Mr. Lordi has said that he hasn't given up on his restaurant, he has hinted he may re-open it elsewhere.)
Another famous Rovaniemi export -- at least in the world of counter-culture entertainment -- is The Dudesons, a group of stuntmen who appeared in Jackass 3. There must be something up with that clean Arctic air.
Customs related to sauna.
1. If the sauna is a small cottage of it's own by someones summercottage, people usually go swimming in a lake after sauna and often go to sauna and to the lake many times in a row. That's maybe my favourite way of having sauna.
2. If it's winter some people are crazy enough to go and roll in the snow after sauna, but I've NEVER done that. Heh, but maybe you will! ;)
3. Bath whisk. In sauna some people have a bath whisk. This is very traditional Finnish. It's a bunch of birch twigs tied together. People "hit" themselves or each other with bath whisks to get cleaner: the birch peals off dead skin. :P
4. Beer and sausage. I don't drink alcohol, but in Finnish sauna culture beer plays an important part. Unfortunatelu many people "forget" to stop drinkin when they're still clear. :P Sausage tastes good after sauna!
Feelings after sauna.
The best feeling is refreshment. You really feel like you're in way tired, but still you feel really good. Your skin feels smooth... I can't explain more, you'll have to experience this yourself.
Santa Claus puts the comfortable, cool summer clothes on and stays in Chamber meeting people from all over the world. Now and again Santa Claus wants to go for a bathe, too. Most preferably he bathes in a clear little lake near his secret log cabin beyond Korvatunturi Mountain.
Usually when we enter an apartment we take our shoes off.. :)
And if you're going to move around by bus, you should know that all the buses don't stop on every stop..You have to wave your arm if you want to get in..! (Be sure that you'll stop the right one ;))
Some little things I know about Finns:
I know that very many of us are a little bit shy, especially when it comes to meeting and talking with foreign people, I know we are a bit crazy in our own weird way, I know that we love FINNISH sauna (and some even winter swimming), and I know we love drinking and watching sports. I also know that most of the foreigners think (know?) that we have lost our minds in a way. Ok... I think it's safer for me if I don't carry on this list :D
Like other Scandinavian countries, Finns celebrate the summer solstice. Finns organise a great number of summer festivals every summer. The most traditional holiday of them all, the Midsummer festival of light, has been celebrated in various ways for centuries. Lapland is the Land of the Midnight Sun. For three months, the sun remains permanently above the horizon in the northern part of the province. Therefore it is natural for Lapland to be a hotbed of festivals and events, which usually are quite small.. :)
The Finnish people have a much more colourful inside that you would think when you first meet them.
I can't say anything authentic about the inside of the Finnish people, but I think it's basically the same as other human beings - we're all the same in the end.
Some things there are that I can point out. Finns like to have their "territory" pretty big. We don't like people coming too close to themselves, like sometimes when I speak to Americans for example I feel a bit uncomfortable about how close they come... and also Mid-Europeans come closer that Finns would like to. You know, we have this spacious country with only 5 million people in it, it's not a big surprise we like to keep distance. It's not only about physical stuff, also mentally many Finns open up only to the dearest, loyal friends.
The "orginal" Finn appreciates peace, quietness and nature, but also likes to know, that if he needs a friend or someone to spend time with, there's someone to trust to.
Finns are pretty workoholic. Aaand... well.. this is not "inside" but hmm. Beer and alcohol generally makes Finns act very stupidly. Exactly the opposite they really are. :P People start being very funny and talkative and open... and that's not natural. Many Finns drink a lot...
Anyway, Finns think a lot inside them and they have beautiful minds, as all humanbeings do. They like to keep their thoughts inside themselves unless they feel like it has to be shared.
Don't take my words as fact, because this is only MY experience about Finns and OF COURSE there are many different kinds of Finns! There are genuinly open, talkative Finns and also the most quiet, even shy type. So this is only the generalized stereotype- thingy, just to make you less surprised when you come here! :)
Sometimes this freaks people out. Specially people from the Mediterranean. Finnish people are generally a little more quiet, uncommunicative and introverted compared to some other nationalities. But this is just the cover. Let's first explain the cover and then what's inside. I know I'm not an expert with this, because I'm not full Finnish myself, but I've lived here my life and I've seen this stuff and talked to people who are very "Finnish" in this sense.
Cover, outside of a "typical Finn":
When you first say hi and start talking, he almost seems like he doesn't want to talk. He might look down or let you do all the talking. He might be short in his answers... later, when you get to know better, he starts being more open with you, he starts laughing with you, is more active in the conversation. Later on, when you're true friends, he's a true friend that you can trust in. You don't always have to be talking with each other, but still you know how you like each other. Even on quiet moments, when you have nothing to say, it doesn't feel uncomfortable: you don't feel the urge to fill the empty, silent moments. You just are friends. Finnish friendship is loyal, but it's slow to warm up. That's why some people feel Finns as cold as their weather!! But it's not true. We just need time to be easy with new people.
Think about it. Maybe that's why cellphones and the Internet are so popular. You can communicate with people without revealing your inner self immediately!! That's a big ease for the Finns.
In conversation, it might be hard to not feel uncomfortable with the silent moments, but don't try to fill them, that'll make the situation worse, just wait naturally and sort of... let the conversation flow. Don't speak too fast, don't ask too many questions. Watch Finnish tv-shows (it doesn't matter if you don't understand them) and you'll understand what this means.
Okey, now I'll explain the scary thing Finland's famous for: SAUNA.
Sauna is a room or a cottage with wooden walls and benches. The most important thing in sauna is the stove with stones on it. The stones are heated either electrically or with wood.
What about the rumor that you have to go there naked? IT'S TRUE!!! Well, you don't HAVE to, you can wear a towel. For the first time it might feel safer to wear a towel: most people find it very embarassing to sit naked with some dudes you hardly know. Usually people go to sauna women and men seperated, and at least this is mostly done with foreigners, because Finns know that people find it uncomfortable. I guarantee: if you come to Finland many times or if you move here, you'll gradually start loving sauna - yes, even withOUT a towel!!
When you go to sauna this is what you do. You go to the dressingroom and take off your clothes. Everyone goes inside and sits to the benches. Someone tosses some water from a bucket to the stones, so the stones start steaming and give warmth to sauna. The temperature rises to 60-90 degrees celsius. For the first second, when the water reaches the stones, it feels a little biting, but after that a sweet scent of warmth fills you and you feel REALLY good!! People stay in the sauna from 5 minutes to half an hour, depends what feels good. You have to toss water to the stones every time the heat goes down... After sauna you wash yourself in the shower and go back to the dressing room.
If you didn't like your first sauna-experience, you'll have to try it once more. Many people rush out from sauna when they get the first biting heat, and they never get to experience the calming and relaxing effect. If you don't like it after the second time, it's up to you then...
Yep! Almost all the Rovaniemi people speak English, only the oldest generation doesn't, and even some of them do. Finns speak aslo Swedish, not fluently but enough to help you.
So be brave to ask anything! Even though we might not LOOK the most frienly people on earth, we really are friendly, and if someone doesn't answer you he doesn't speak English and is embarassaed, he's NOT trying to be rude!
Because Rovaniemi is a tourist city, all our tourist guides speak good english and many of them speak various other languages like Italian, Spanish, French, Russian or German.
I've been asked about shoes. Heh, funny that this question came up.
Well, I have the impression that in most countries people don't take shoes off when they go inside to someones house. Well, in Finland we do! There are some reasons to this:
1. In the summer and autumn all the dirt gets inside, and in Finland hygiene is funnily improtant! ;) But it think it's good, anyway.
2. In the winter we have wintershoes, which aren't very comfortable to weat the whole year.
3. In the winter our shoes are snowy when we come inside, and we don't want the snow to melt inside the house, do we? ;)
So, this is what I suggest you to do.
In normal visiting situations and casual housparties:
Go inside from the first door. After that there's usually a small porch where people hang their coats and take their shoes off. That's what you should do (usually).
In fancier situations outside the house:
Keep your shoes on if you have shoes suitable for fancy feasts/parties. Women usually have two pairs of shoes; one pair for outside, one for the party itself, because it's not very handy to walk in snow with high heels ;).
BEST TIP!! Watch what your host does and do the same!! Or if you still don't know, just ask where to put your shoes, it's NOT concidered odd or stupid.
All the buildnings in Rovaniemi are similar, very ugly, very 50's. Very low, very symmethrical. And even it is a small town, navigating there is not easy, because streets are oddly designed.
But there is a reason for this funny and weird city style. Rovaniemi was badly bombed in the end of II World War by German troopers. When German leaved Lapland, they bombed cities and villages there down, so down that there were nothing left. For example in my Mother's hometown, Kemijarvi, is only one small chapel which was there before bombing. Everything else has been rebuilt again.
This is why Rovaniemi is so quickly built and look how it does.
Many Finns are kind of 'afraid' of foreigners! But you'll find someone who wins her/his fears, if you don't look very repulsive.. :) English is widely spoken in whole country!