Weird Things that Finns Do

15. November 2016 Culture 0
Finns are obsessed with always peeling their potatos
Finns are obsessed with always peeling their potatoes

Finns are normal, easy going people, but like every other people group, they have distinct idiosyncrasies. Here are some that, as an American, I find weird.

#1 Potato Skins

The first meal I ever had in Finland was a nice home-cooked meal of foods very common in Finland. It consisted of salmon in a white cheese sauce, vegetables, fresh bread, and boiled potatoes. It sounds great and not at all weird, right? Well, a few minutes into the meal I felt like people were giving me strange looks. At first I thought I was just being nervous or that my American manners were different. Then I noticed that everyone else at the table was peeling their boiled potatoes and putting the skins into a bowl. And they were occasionally stealing glances across the table at the American barbarian. Me? I was eating them like I always do. Realizing the issue, I asked about it and found that many Finns never eat the potato skins and I think no one present at that meal had seen someone eating them before. In America, baked potato skins are loved by all and served in restaurants, so this was a new experience for me. And because the skins are the most nutritious part of the potato, I think this Finnish habit is weird.

#2 Using Week Numbers

This one is really weird and quite frankly unusual for a country that normally operates as simply as possible. In many official publications and places of business, week numbers, such as “week 5” or “week 48” are used rather than the “first week of February” or the “last week of November.” How is someone supposed to know what month and what days week 31 represents? It is a lot of work to figure it out and completely unnecessary given that we already have months and days to express the same thing in a much more commonly understood way. When I asked some Finns about this, they too have no idea and generally hate it. That is just weird.

#3 Publicly Publishing Personal Incomes

In Finland ever year, newspapers publish the incomes of the country’s richest people and many join in jealously bashing the rich. I normally write good things about Finland because there is so much good here, but this is simply wrong. All tax records are public in Finland and any Finn can sign up to see what other people make. This leads to a lot of useless jealousy and quite frankly I think it is an invasion of privacy. Plus, it lets the communists and anarchists know which houses to burn. :) On more serious note, I think this is not just weird, it is immoral and dangerous. On top of invading individuals’ privacy, it also lets criminals know who to target. In fact, the daughter of one of Finland’s richest families was kidnapped and held for ransom for several weeks a while back. I cannot say this was directly related, but it does given criminals the upper hand. I also get the impression from some newspapers that they wish to somehow shame the successful. And so I must say, shame on you Finland and shame on you newspapers for invading people’s privacy and making sport of it! This type of thing serves no public purpose or value.

#4 Loneliness and Social Interaction

Depression is at epidemic proportions in Finland and yet Finns remain isolated and socially awkward. Many Finns are lonely, but view the effort of making friends almost too much to attempt, and so they remain lonely and consequently depressed. This is strange given that Finns are rich, educated, and healthy. The first few weeks I attended a church here in Finland not a single person spoke to me. That is weird. This lack of socialization and not wanting to be vulnerable in a friendship is part of the dark side of Finnish culture and it is weird, because Finns are very nice people and friendly at heart. That is why I have written previously that Finns are not angry they are just Finnish.

#5 Putting Babies Outside to Take a Nap

This one you may have heard about already, because from time-to-time it makes it into the large international newspapers, but it still warrants a mention because outside of the Nordic Countries, it is very unusual. Finns put their babies in bassinets and strollers and put them to sleep on balconies and outside cafes. At first this seems horrible, but I now no longer see it that way. The babies are always well dressed (usually overdressed) and Finland is a very, very safe place. The upside is that the babies fall into a deeper sleep and tend to sleep for longer. Of course, when it is very cold they no longer do this, but all through the winter babies are placed on balconies for their naps, unless the temperature drops. The rule of thumb seems to be that -10 C (14 F) starts to be too cold. But hey, Finns live much longer than most of the world and have the lowest infant mortality rates, so it cannot be that bad. However, because most of the world would never dream of doing this, I considered it weird, but completely acceptable.


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