Congratulations Finland!

Finland! We don’t hear much about it. A small country with more saunas than lakes -and they are famous for their lakes- a coffee lovers’ paradise. Finland, the land I fell in love with so many years ago.

Back then, only twenty years young, I booked a voyage on a mailboat, went from island to island, and watched mail being delivered to faraway places, and to my surprise, it was the most delightful experience. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed it so much, that I went back as a passenger on a polar icebreaker boat in Lappland, which is not a land, but a region in Finland.

Now the Republic of Finland is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since April 4th, 2023.

Congratulations! In your face Mr. Putin!

Sadly, our news here in the US hardly mentioned it, so I thought I use my blog to express my admiration and my love for a country and its people.

Born in the Austrian Alps I have always longed to explore the north, and while I love visiting a tropical paradise and can live for months in hot and humid temperatures, I am drawn to the cold, the winter, and the stillness of nature.

I went back to Finland three more times. I explored Helsinki and enjoyed Licorice ice cream -which is so unbelievably good, even if you don’t like licorice. I appreciated nature, and the stillness of the waters and went in so many saunas that I stopped counting.

Can you be in love with a land or a continent that you don’t know anything about? Yes, I suppose you can. The urge to explore and travel comes from somewhere. It’s a longing when you look at a map, or see pictures from unknown places. The feeling of closeness to cities and people you have never visited but you feel it instantly.

Finland and I needed to meet and so we did.

A few fun facts about Finland:

The Happiest People in the World

The World Happiness Report ranks Finland as the happiest nation in the world. Why is that? Is it the lakes? The forests? The sauna? Probably a little bit of everything paired with social progressiveness, good school education, and a certain modesty and basic satisfaction. Not everything is good in Finland either, and not every Finn is happy, but the basic conditions seem to be quite good. People seem more grounded, at least that’s how I experience it and when I visited Finland I also felt happier. Maybe the Happiness of the Finns it’s contagious.

Donald Duck or Aku Ankka!

Donald Duck is called Aku Ankka in Finland. How cute is that? That alone is an interesting fact, but the real fun fact is the urban legend that surrounds the comic insisting that it was once banned because Donald Duck was not wearing pants. Nobody can really prove it, but the fact is that the comic is very popular. There is even an edition that couldn’t be more Finnish: “The Search for the Kalevala”. (The Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology, telling an epic story about the Creation of the Earth)

Happy Failure Day

On October 13, the Finns celebrate the Day of Failure, which was initiated in 2010. Failure was one of the last taboos in Finnish society and so one came up with that day to deal openly with the topic, to acknowledge mistakes and failures, to deal with them candidly, and not only to learn from them but to grow from them. Great, isn’t it?

Finland, the land of curious competitions

They’re crazy those Finns? Perhaps, or they just like extraordinary competitions. These include cell phone throwing, wasteland football, women’s carrying, rubber boot throwing, sauna heating, air guitar playing, and heavy metal knitting. The competitions are carried out with lots of fun, but also ambition and to no surprise have enjoyed great international popularity.


A small Finnish town in Lapland with no less than 35 letters: Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä. Try and say that 10 times, I dare you. 🙂

Almost as bad as Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, a lake in Michigan.

If you want to hear 10 of the longest place names in the world pronounced. Here you go. It’s very entertaining.

Finns speak Swedish

Well, of course, Finns usually speak Finnish first of all, and many of them speak English very well, but Swedish is the second official language of the country, even if the Finland Swedes are a small minority with about 300,000 and so the children learn Swedish at school. Incidentally, Swedish is the first official language of the Åland Islands.

Finland, the Tango Nation

Tango is probably not the first thing one would associate with Finland, but when the dance with its heavy melodies came to Finland in 1913, it hit the heart of the Finnish soul. Even today, tango is an integral part of Finland and since 1985 the Tangomarkkinat takes place once a year in Seinäjoki, a multi-day festival with tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Reindeer Warning App

With about 300,000 reindeer living in the north of the country and mostly roaming freely, a reindeer warning app (there is also a website) makes sense, because there are about 3,000 – 4,000 accidents with reindeer every year. Via “Porokello” (Reindeer bell) bus drivers, truck drivers, and many others report reindeer sightings, warn others and therefore reduce accidents.

Santa Claus is Finnish

The only true Santa Claus for the Finns is, of course, the Joulupukki, who lives with his reindeer and elders in Lapland. More precisely, inside the Korvatunturis, the Ohrenberg, on the Finnish-Russian border. Of course, no one has ever found the secret entrance. You can still visit the Joulupukki because he has his office in Rovaniemi and can be found in Santa Claus Village as well as in SantaPark and the surrounding area.

There is something about Finland that cannot be explained. Even the music makes you happy.


21 thoughts on “Congratulations Finland!

  1. A fun song! I fondly remember dancing with both my uncle and grandfather at my other uncle’s wedding to a couple of different polkas … such fun memories. I hope you get the chance to return to Finland some day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed learning about Finland through your experience, Bridget. I recently watched “The Reluctant Traveler” with Eugene Levy visiting Finland, and I was so taken with the spirit of the people, as you mention, the “hippiest.” I was thrilled to learn that Finland was admitted to NATO, Now, as previously mentioned, Go Sweden!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like you, Bridget, I do love the stillness of nature in Finland and the luminescent green of Finnish grass in Spring. The Squirrels running in the conifer trees, the cool and sometimes chilly breeze, the occasional sun doing its best to warm you, the remnants of ice. The cinnamon buns. It is a curious country I would love to visit again, and its people are a little different. Strongly independent so the latest decision will no doubt have some implications.
    Have you seen any Finnish films? Some are really good but they are again a bit different. I have a Finnish penpal, such a wonderful person and then there is Snow the blogger, who lived in Australia and misses living here. I like my connections to Finland.
    I also love saunas so how could I not love Finland. Interesting also about Donald Duck, Failure day and cell phone throwing. I did not know of those things. They are all different but in such a good way! Kitos!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Bridget, for an interesting geography lesson about Finland and its people. I met a young foreign exchange student from Finland years ago, and she couldn’t get enough of rowing a boat! She loved the water.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norway doesn’t have to be brave, they are shielded by Sweden. Finland on the other hand has Russia as neighbor and now they have the protection not just from the EU but also from the NATO. So it was very smart and very important move for this small country.

      Liked by 1 person

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