Culture of Finland - history, people, clothing, traditions, women, beliefs, food, customs, family
The terms "Finland" and "Finns" are external obscure derivations from early Recent research, including paleoecological evidence of agricultural grain pollens dating to the declined in size and assimilated through marriage with Finnish speakers. It is the center of the ubiquitous "coffee ceremony," a ritualized display of. Finnish customs and manners are clearly European, with only a few national .. When greeting a married couple, the wife should be greeted first, except on a. mar Link: Dating and marriage customs in finland. The Swedish-speaking minority has been the target of harassment and discrimination in Finland.
Village young people also met during their work and at evening socials. When bicycles came along, young people had more opportunities to meet. These escapades were also known in most of northern and central Europe and the Baltic countries. Young people needed the consent of their parents before they could marry. If they married against their parents' wishes, they could not expect a dowry or inheritance. After a year-old could marry anyone without consent. A formal proposal of marriage was preceeded by a discreet inquiry to ensure it would not meet rejection.
The proposal was usually made in the evening and unknown to an outsider, except in Karelia where it was a village affair with lots of festivity. The suitor was accompanied by a spokesman; in western Finland this was an older person and a family friend.
In Karelia it was the suitor's father or a relative. The farm owners in southwest Finland hired a professional spokesman.
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The spokesman presented the case in a traditional custom known throughout Scandinavia and Europe. When the girl made her appearance, a bottle of spirits and gifts were handed over.
In Karelia, gifts were money, a ring, scarf, etc. Receiving gifts didn't mean a binding acceptance, because the gifts could be returned if the suit was rejected. If the answer was favorable, the girl and her parents visited the suitor's home. The future daughter-in-law might also stay for a week and help with the household work. Betrothal and Marriage Banns Betrothal gifts were money, goods, clothes, etc.
Rings weren't used until the 18th century in western Finland, and not until the early 19th century in eastern Finland. Later the young people traveled into town together to buy rings and a silken scarf. In most cases the betrothal period was six months. According to the ecclesiastic order of the banns had to be published before a betrothal. The betrothal was made in the presence of a pastor. In western Finland a party was held on the first day the banns were published.
In eastern Finland it was customary to hold both betrothal and banns parties. Under the Ecclesiastic Law of a betrothal was legally binding and could be broken off only by consent of the Church.
The guilty party then might have to pay a fine and a guilty suitor had to return the gifts. In western Finland when banns were published from the 18th century onthe bridal couple was given a small silver stick and a crutch to express that the couple had been "cast" from the pulpit and had in the process "broken their legs".
According to an tradition, a betrothed woman in Finland was called a maiden or bride; in Karelia she was also "something to be given away. These terms were used until the birth of the first child. Among the landless rural people, the betrothal consisted of a journey to town or market to buy wedding rings.
Then they visited the parsonage to take out banns. In the s the town people began announcing betrothals in the newspapers. Preparing for Marriage It used to be the custom after the banns were read for the first time for the bride and an older woman to visit her relatives and neighbors.
The purpose was to collect gifts, usually linen, wool, cloth, and money. Then she was assisted by other girls to make gifts to be given to the bridegroom's relatives and guests during the marriage feast.
As early as the 17th century attempts were made to restrict the visits for gifts to the bride's home parish. In the 19th century the parish began to prohibit this practice. It was already going out of use in western Finland and was observed only by the servants and landless. In eastern Finland the custom was still followed to the s. In western Finland the wedding house was decorated with triumphal arches, maypole and flags. The walls of the feast room were covered with white drapes, woven fabrics and mirrors, garlands and wreaths.
The Swedish Finns and some Finns in southern Ostrobothnia suspended a bridal canopy from the ceiling. This was done when the couple was married in the bride's home. It was still customary in the 19th century for the bride, and sometimes the groom, to take a sauna bath in the evening before the marriage day.
In the southwest the bride bathed with other girls, but sometimes with the groom. In parts of Karelia similar customs were followed with laments and leave-taking ceremonies.
In summer weddings became popular. In the most popular wedding months were June, July, August and December. Peasant weddings usually lasted days. In pubs and restaurants it may be regarded by many as irritating but it goes on regardless. At concerts, at the theatre and in church it is barbaric and considerate people switch their phones off in those places.
Dating, Relationships, Cultural Norms - Finland Forum
Whereas a few decades ago a visitor might report back home on an uncommunicative, reserved and introvert Arctic tribe, the more common view today is that of a hyper-communicative people who are already experiencing the future that some fear and others hope for: All over the world, the Internet and e-mail have radically changed how people find information and keep in touch, and Finland is no exception.
For young people, using the ever-increasing range of IT applications is commonplace, and it is also an important factor in shaping youth culture. Increasingly, politicians and corporate managers set up websites and maintain personal blogs to comment publicly on their lives and views. Finnish belongs to the small Finno-Ugrian language group; outside Finland it is understood and to some extent spoken in Estonia.
And in Sweden, too, Finnish is spoken among the large number of Finnish immigrants. Finns take care of their linguistic communication by maintaining a wide range of foreign languages in the school curriculum. English is widely spoken in Finland and in the business community some companies use it as their house language. German is no longer widely taught but many Finns in their 50s or older learned it as their first foreign language at school. French, Spanish and Russian have grown in popularity both in schools and among adult learners.
Membership of the European Union and the related practical and social demands have increased the need to study European languages, at least in the case of Finns who travel in Europe on business or are studying abroad. Educated Finnish speakers, particularly those working in the public sector, speak Swedish to some degree whilst almost all Swedish-speaking Finns speak Finnish too. The status of Swedish as the joint official language of mainland Finland can be seen in the bilingual names of public institutions and in street signs, the latter case depending on the percentage of minority language speakers resident in a given municipality, and in the Swedish-language programmes on radio and TV.
Swedish-speaking Finns have a distinctive culture, and their social mores are influenced by Scandinavian traditions moreso than amongst the Finnish-speaking majority. Names and titles When introducing themselves, Finns will say their forename followed by their surname.
Although Finns are conscious and proud of any official titles they may have, they rarely mention these when introducing themselves. In contrast, they do expect to be addressed by their title in professional and official contexts: Doctor Virtanen, Managing Director Savolainen, etc.
The familiar form of address in Finnish i. However, young people still tend to address middle-aged or elderly people by the formal second person plural if they do not know the persons well. It is relatively easy to get onto first-name terms with a Finn, especially if it is evident that the parties will continue to meet regularly for business or pleasure.
However, it is felt appropriate that the use of first names is specifically and mutually agreed upon. The use of first names is always proposed by the older or more senior person to the junior, or, in the case of equals, by the woman to the man; the agreement is enacted by shaking hands, making eye contact, with each party saying their first name aloud, and nodding the head. Raising a toast with schnapps, wine or champagne lends a festive air to the occasion.
Apart from this, Finns are not nearly as demanding in remembering names as many other people are. It is not usual to address people by name when greeting them regardless of how familiar one is with them or in the course of a normal conversation. Businessmen and persons in public office are expected to distribute business cards as a means of ensuring their name and title are remembered. There are no special rituals related to exchanging business cards in Finland.
For a visitor, receiving a business card provides a convenient opportunity to ask how a name is pronounced or what a cryptic title might mean. Greeting When meeting, Finns shake hands and make eye contact. Handshakes are brief and firm, and involve no supporting gestures. When greeting, the parties shake hands and make eye contact. A deep bow denotes special respect — in normal circumstances, a nod of the head is enough.
A Finnish handshake is brief and firm, and involves no supporting gestures such as touching the shoulder or upper arm. When greeting a married couple, the wife should be greeted first, except on a formal occasion where the hosts should first be greeted by the spouse to whom the invitation was addressed.
Children are greeted by shaking hands too. Embracing people when greeting them is rare in Finland. A man greeting someone in the street should raise his hat; in the cold of winter, a touch of the hand to the brim of the hat is enough.
Finns can kiss as well as the next nation, but they rarely do so when greeting. Friends and acquaintances may hug when meeting, and kisses on the cheek are not entirely unknown, although this habit is not generally found in rural areas.
There is no special etiquette regarding the number of kisses on the cheek; however, most Finns feel that three kisses is going a bit far.
Men very rarely kiss each other in greeting, and never on the mouth in the manner of our eastern neighbours. Eating Finnish cuisine has western European, Scandinavian and Russian elements. Table manners are European. Breakfast can be quite substantial.
Lunch is usually eaten between The once common long business lunches have shrunk to 90 minutes or two hours. Evening meals at home are eaten around In most restaurants, dinners are served from Many restaurants stop serving food about 45 minutes before they actually close, so it is worthwhile checking the serving times when booking a table. Concerts and theatre performances usually begin at Restaurant menus and home cooking rarely involve food that western visitors would not be acquainted with.
Increased nutritional awareness has made the once heavy, fatty Finnish diet lighter, and the better restaurants can cater for a variety of dietary requirements. Ethnic restaurants, constantly increasing in number, have added to the expanding choice. Beer and wine are drunk with restaurant food in the evening, but at lunchtime these days they feature very little, if at all. At a dinner party, the host determines the seating order if necessary. The guest of honour is seated to the right of the hostess or the host, if it is a men-only dinner.
This is a seat dreaded by most Finns, since the guest of honour is expected to say a few words of thanks to the hosts after the meal. It is not appropriate for guests to drink before this, unless the beginning of the meal is badly delayed. Finns seldom make speeches during a meal, but they do so on formal occasions. In such cases, the speeches are made between courses. During the meal, the host may toast individual guests, or guests may toast each other, by raising their glasses and making eye contact.
Once the toast is drunk, eye contact should be made again when lowering the glass to the table. A meal normally concludes with coffee and postprandial drinks are served with it or immediately after. If the hosts allow smoking, this is the moment to bring out the cigars and cigarettes, unless of course the host has already allowed or suggested this earlier.
When leaving the table, the guests should thank the hosts briefly for the fare when they get the chance, regardless of whether the guest of honour has done so or not.
Finns drink coffee anywhere and everywhere. More coffee per person is drunk in Finland than anywhere else in the world. Finns consume the equivalent of slightly over ten litres of pure alcohol per person per year, which is close to the European average.
Drinking habits mainly follow Scandinavian and European practices. There are fewer national characteristics than one might think, considering that Finns do have a reputation for drinking; and indeed binge drinking is fairly common, as it is throughout northern Europe and parts of the UK. However, consumption of wine and beer, as opposed to spirits, has increased in recent years, and as a result more decorous drinking behaviour has become more common.
The persistence of "burn-beating" cultivation poltta kaskea, kaskiviljelysa form of pioneer extensive farming in which patches of conifer forest were cut and burned to create fertilized fields, involved mobile populations and a dispersed pattern of settlement. Remote individual farms or extended dual-family holdings were won from the forest, often along glacial esker ridges or "home hills" harju, vaara.
While these historical patterns of settlement affect the current rural landscape, six of ten Finns now live in urban areas. The largest cities are greater Helsinki with aboutpeople, Tampere with , Turku with , and Oulu withThe majority of residential dwellings of all types have been constructed since World War II, largely consisting of apartment house complexes in large cities.
Adapting socially and emotionally to this urban landscape has been problematic for many recent migrants from the countryside. Many city dwellers still view themselves as partly rural, a fact attested to by a weekend and holiday return to cottages in the countryside.
Finland remains one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, with only 26 people per square mile 16 people per square kilometer. The development of contemporary architectural movements in the twentieth century may be seen as an attempt to adapt the demands of modern housing projects, offices, churches, and public buildings to the forests, lakes, light conditions, and other distinctive features and materials of the landscape. Pioneered by Alvar Aalto and Erik Bryggman, Finnish modern architecture employs a "neoplastic" use of space that emerges directly from the function and surroundings of building structures.
Despite the notable innovations of the twentieth century, much of the national architectural identity resides in older buildings that have achieved an iconic status: Engel which now contains the Council of State, the University of Helsinki, and the Helsinki Cathedral; and Helsinki's railway station, designed by Eliel Saarinen and completed inan imposing granite building that presages the Art Deco skyscrapers built in American cities two decades later.
Food and Economy Food in Daily Life. There are notable differences between western and eastern Finland in bread making and the manner of souring milk. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Coffee is a "national drink" that mediates the distinction between the rural interior and the urban industrial A Lapp reindeer breeder from Inari. Finland's Lapps have maintained a separate cultural identity. In the early nineteenth century, coffee was an expensive imported beverage consumed by the aristocracy, but it has been incorporated into all strata of society.
It is the center of the ubiquitous "coffee ceremony," a ritualized display of hospitality, elegance, and self-restraint in which an abundance of delicate pastries is served. Commercially produced sausage makkarawhich became increasingly common in the diet after the s, represents a relatively recent shift toward large-scale food-processing industries.
Abhorred by nutritionists for its high fat and sodium content and ridiculed and scorned in popular lore and jokes, sausage is nonetheless considered a versatile convenience food. Like coffee, it may appear as a common festival food at occasions such as Midsummer juhannusalong with cheese bread, potato pasties perunapiirakkayeast coffee bread pullabeer, and vodka. Sima a kind of meadtalouskalja homemade beerand viilia soured whole milk also may be served on special occasions.
Livestock raising was a major element in the peasant economy, along with fishing, hunting, tar production, and peddling. Wood as a commercial product did not become part of the farming economy until liberalized marketing policies, improved sawmilling techniques, and foreign demand converged in the late nineteenth century.
The precariousness of crop cultivation, coupled with the emergence of new international markets for butter during the Russian colonial period —intensified the production of dairy cattle. Gradually, cultivated grasses replaced grains and wild hay as a source of cattle pasturage and fodder, and after the turn of the century, farmers began to establish cooperative dairies osuusmeijerit.
The general shift toward commercial agriculture coincided with the decline of the burn-beating system. Nonetheless, many farm families in the northern and eastern regions maintained an essentially subsistence orientation until the s.
Increased mechanization and specialization in farm production dairy cattle, hogs, and grains occurred in the s as the labor force moved into manufacturing and service industries; less than 11 percent of the labor force is now involved in agriculture and forestry. The rural economy is still based on modest family-owned farms where the marketing of timber from privately owned forest tracts is an important means of financing agricultural operations.
Handicraft and artisan traditions were well developed historically, and some have survived the conversion to industrial manufacturing. Men specialized in making furniture, harnesses, wooden vessels or "bushels" vakkaand metalwork. The sheath knife puukko was a versatile tool, and it continues to symbolize maleness in recreational hunting and fishing. Women specialized in textiles and lace making. The woven woolen wall rug ryijy has become a particularly popular art form in homes, emblematic of a family's patrimony.
By the Middle Ages local markets and fairs were important in the economy, with fairs often held in the vicinity of churches and associated with saints' days or other aspects of the religious calendar. Land Tenure and Property.
Historically, in the west it was customary for a farm to be passed on to the eldest son or the eldest daughter's husband. In the east, the land was divided among all the adult male family members. These regional patterns have largely faded, and intergenerational transfers of land have become highly variable throughout the country.
Despite a bias toward patrilineal transmission, farms can be inherited by sons or daughters or the oldest or youngest offspring or can be divided or jointly held by multiple heirs. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a landless proletariat constituted half the rural population. Major agrarian reforms included the Crofters' Law ofthe Lex Kallio ofand the Land Procurement Law ofall of which created holdings for landless rural poor and unfavorably situated tenant farmers.
With two-thirds of total output generated in the service sector, the economy is comparable to those in other advanced industrial nations.
Finland joined the European Union EU inprimarily to further political integration, but has experienced some economic benefits in the form of lower food prices. A recession-spurred unemployment rate exceeding 18 percent in the mids, has been the largest economic problem, stemming from the Soviet Union's collapse and the deterioration of bilateral Finnish-Soviet trade.
The markkaor Finnmark, is the basic monetary unit. In recent years, metal, engineering, and electronics products have accounted for half of the country's exports, with forest products accounting for another third. The revolution in high-technology industries has been dramatic.
These industries did not become prominent until the s but now produce a large and growing share of exports.
Old Marriage Customs in Finland
The Nokia Corporation, known in the s primarily for paper and rubber products, has an expanding international market for mobile phones, computers, and related telecommunications products. Furs and naval stores constituted a large share of the export trade in the Middle Ages, mainly destined for the cities of the Hanseatic League. German and Swedish merchants were prominent in Finland's early Baltic port cities. After the mid-nineteenth century, foreign trade shifted toward Saint Petersburg and Russian markets with lumber, paper, and agricultural products becoming the chief exports.
After World War II, forest products remained crucial to the export economy, but they are now complemented by sophisticated metal, electronics, engineering, and chemical products. In recent years, trade with countries in the European Economic Community has expanded and has been reinforced by Finland's membership in the European Free Trade Association.
Social Stratification Classes and Castes. Before the nineteenth century, Finnish society was divided into peasants Light blue vases at the Arabia Factory in Helsinki, which is known for its stoneware, china, and porcelain.
Finnish design combines local artistic themes with tools and materials adapted to demanding northern conditions. Economic change led to the decline of the clergy and nobility and an expansion of the entrepreneurial and working classes. In more recent decades, considerable social mobility and an egalitarian ethos emerged with increasing economic prosperity, a progressive social welfare system, an open educational system, and consensus politics.
While Finns may not always recognize clear economic class divisions, they are likely to be conscious of the status attached to educational and honorific titles and political party affiliation.
The currently unfolding class system includes farmers, the working class nonrural manual laborersthe petit bourgeoisie shop owners, small entrepreneursthe lower middle class lower-income service sectorthe upper middle class higher-income white-collar professionalsand the upper class corporate owners and managers.
Symbols of these loosely-drawn social strata, as in many Western democracies, can be rather subtle. The administrative district or commune maalaiskunta embodies a sense of community and self-identification for its residents. It often coincides with the historical church parish, and is a local unit of self-government that generally collects taxes, regulates economic affairs, and maintains public order. Every four years a communal council is elected to manage local affairs. Much of a council's work is implemented by a communal board composed of members appointed to reflect the council's political party composition.
Leadership and Political Officials. With more than a dozen political parties, kunta government sometimes is represented by opposing coalitions of socialist and nonsocialist party interests. The same principle applies at the national level, where the two hundred representatives of the uni-cameral parliament Eduskunta are often elected by alliances of parties.
Nonetheless, most parliamentary members follow the positions of their political parties and vote in blocs. The parliament promulgates laws, approves the national budget, monitors the legality of governmental activities, and, in concert with the president, exerts legislative power.
Social Problems and Control. The institution of a village-governing alderman was part of the authoritarian moral environment in the dense rural settlements of the southern and western regions.
In the sparsely settled eastern interior, social life was more individualistic and social control less formal. In contemporary society, independent courts and centrally organized police forces maintain public order. Crime rates generally increased between the s and s paralleling the country's growing wealth and urbanization. The economic recession of the early s was accompanied by a decline in crime, followed by modest increases in recent years. Compared with other Nordic countries, Finland has very low rates for theft and narcotics offenses but an above average rate for assault.
Finland's historical position as a frontier of colonization and military incursions by external empires is part of the collective conscience. Strategic victories against invading Soviet forces during the "Winter War" of — are symbolically integral to the lore and identity of many Finns. By contrast, the "reign of terror" after the civil war of — profoundly polarized the middle classes and working classes, with the working classes remaining alienated and embittered.
In foreign relations, Finland initially attempted to establish cooperative ties with other countries that had won their independence from Russia after World War I. However, it soon abandoned that position and began to seek the support of the League of Nations.
After the mids, Nordic cooperation became the predominant orientation in foreign policy. Social Welfare and Change Programs In recent years, expenditures on social insurance health, pension, accident, and disability programssocial transfers of income maternity allowances, children's allowances, child support payments, municipal housing allowancesand social welfare individuals in need have approached one-fifth of the gross national product.
The programs are financed by contributions from the state, municipal governments, employers, and insured individuals. As early ascompensation was instituted for workers injured in accidents.
A dramatic increase in medical care needed for disabled war veterans beginning in the s spurred the state to expand public health programs. Finland has been a pioneer in maternity allowances and family welfare, offering one of the most generous systems of payments for mother and child care in the world. Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations About 10 to 15 percent of the government's aid budget is allocated to nongovernmental organizations NGOs involved in development and humanitarian projects.