A guide to understanding Finns

By now you’ve probably been to New York and Los Angeles, seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the pyramids in Egypt. You’ve checked out Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and walked on the Chinese Wall hoping to be seen from space. You’ve eaten that dangerous blowfish, of course, and drunk wine made of grapes from the shady side of the Andes.

Chances are you’ve also come across Finns along the way. Maybe you’ve met one, maybe you know one, maybe you’re married to one, or maybe someone you know is married to one.


Maybe you’ve just read about them in the paper. For example, maybe you saw the story about the wife-carrying contest? The, um, 19th annual wife-carrying contest was held in early July, and the victory stayed in Finland, thanks to Ville Parviainen and Janette Oksman. The AP report on the competitions ends with this:
“Finland has established itself as a prime venue for unusual events including international air guitar, swamp soccer and mobile phone throwing competitions.”

So there. Finns like to create fake competitions which they can excel at. We used to like long-distance running and cross-country skiing, but then we started to lose so we lost interest. These days we show “sisu” in hockey. Sisu, by the way, is a Finnish word that means to have guts and grit, but can’t be translated into any other language because only Finns can really have sisu.

The other Finnish word that’s traveled internationally is “sauna”, and of course Finns put those two together and held Sauna World Championships. (That ended as you might have expected, in third-degree burns and deaths).

Finnish is also one of the most difficult languages to learn, which makes Finns special. Maybe learning the most difficult language in the world at a young age makes Finnish kids so smart that they top all kinds of international lists with their intellect.

Chances are, though, that even though Finns live among us, you’ve never heard of them. Finns like silence. Silence is a friend. Silence is golden, and in that sense we’re rich. We don’t speak a lot, and when we do, we keep it short. We keep our communication to the point, and it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because if you ask a Finn if the Finns are the most honest people in the world, he’ll look at you, and then say: “Yes.”

Then he’ll throw his mobile phone as far as he can, while carrying his wife who’s playing the air guitar, and she’ll be playing death metal, because Finns like metal (but not death as much). Even if this non-metal song is the most played song in Finland since 2000, Finland has more metal band per capita than any other country in the world.

The honest Finnish man, and woman, are honest enough to make Finland the least corrupt country in the world. And these days they’ll probably throw the phones a little quicker and longer than before, since Microsoft bought up Nokia, and the pride of having the biggest mobile phone company in the world in Finland is gone.

I know, I know, now you think that Finnish women are some pretty princesses that have to be carried around. No, Finnish women are just as tough as the men, and that’s why Finland was the first European country to introduce women’s suffrage, even though it was still a part of the Russian Empire.

Right now Finns are angry, like Angry birds, as they look out to the world and see corruption, and people who aren’t carrying their wives, and listen to soft – so soft – pop music. They’d say something, but then again, silence is golden. And Finns don’t like to meddle in other people’s business anyway.

Finns don’t like to waste time with talking, or debating things. They come together, see what the boss says, and they do it. They don’t like what the boss man says, but they’ll deal with that later. Soon there’ll be a new boss.

Finns have a language that they love but don’t want to overuse, a language that’s different from their neighbours’ languages in the East and in the West. As they like to tell themselves, “We’re not Swedes anymore, and Russians we don’t want to become, so let’s be Finns”, in the words of a 19th century politician and author A.I Arwidsson.

And so they are.

There’s no way to really explain the Finns, you’ll just have to understand them. They’re not like others. They’re special. We’re special.

But maybe this will help you:

New York Times.

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