I was in Finland for five days to attend and document Maureen’s wedding to Antii, a Finnish gentleman I have mentioned earlier in my post on Maureen’s leaving. I am very fortunate to have been involved in this wonderful event, since I was transported into the depths of the country, to a small town called Kihnio, a four hour drive from the airport, into their real homes and their real hospitality, away from the bustle of the usual tourist stop that is Helsinki. In these five days, I learned and experienced their traditional way of living, before modernization and globalization homogenize everything.
First let me share some little fun facts about Finland, at least from what I remember from talking to Antii’s older brother, Yusi, on that long bus drive.
Finnish people is quite reserved. They usually keep their wealth and achievements to themselves. A bit shy, but once you get to know them, they can really cherish your frendship.
There are no poor people in Finland. The nation is doing very well in providing jobs and giving protection and healthcare and education to its people, so there are no riots and they have low crime rates.
The minimum wage by law is quite high, around 1500 euros. So even in restaurants, you can see only very few waiters.
Employees who make quite good money have a similar ceiling, around 5000 euros. This is designed so that people’s wealth are relatively the same, to prevente. This seems to be working.
They have so much resources and so few people (8 million) that they don’t do much environment preservation, other than to benefit their EU neighbours. There are lands of trees as far as eyes can see, and they have like thousands of fresh water lakes, so it is quite okay to brush your teeth with your tap on.
Their tap water is one of the cleanest in the world, even cleaner than the bottled water, some surveys have found. And it is so all over the country, not only on the countryside. So don’t go around buying bottled water in Finland, you hear?
Since they have so many lakes, quite a lot, if not the majority, of people have their houses beside a lake. They have their own jetty (pier), and their own small boat. And they fish a lot.
They did not invent sauna, but sauna is a big part of the Finnish living. Every house has a sauna, just like we think that every house has a kitchen. Some people have their sauna in a hut beside the lake, so they can do that hot-cold-hot-cold routine on wintertime.
Being invited to a Finnish family sauna is a big deal. It means that you are special, a friend of the family.
They do sauna quite often, some people even have it everyday after a day’s work, with a beer in hand.