Advent Calendar, Day 21

sunset and snow on pier
Tuusula, Finland 2009

Today it’s Winter solstice which means it’s the shortest day of the year. I’ll sleep late so I don’t really see the light. From now on the days are getting longer and lighter. It also means spring is near and that’s something Finns look forward to. If you see a sulking looking person in December and a happier one in March, that’s a Finn. People is general have more enthusiasm in the spring and summer. Even me who likes the cold and the winter months. Warmth makes any person happy.

When it’s lighter outside longer, it makes you less tired. I don’t suffer from the so-called November blues. I can be tired all year around and it has nothing to do with what month it is. But summers can be tiring if it’s hot and I hate hot weather. I rather have cold and lighter days which is the reason why I like early spring. The time when it’s still winter but yet not too cold. Even better if there is snow. Snowy and sunny days are the best.

Before that this Christmas should be taken care out of the way. On the radio they play Christmas songs and complain about the stress people have. I have never understood why. If you don’t want stress, then take a trip. Don’t buy presents and if you really have to, buy online. There’s always a solution.
We always spent Christmas around the closest family. Those are the best. I feel sorry for those who have big families. You know uncles, cousins and so on. I could never imagine spending the holidays with relatives so luckily I have nothing to do with them. They have their own families. Our Christmases was always just me, my sister, parents and grandmothers. Those were the most memorable. I didn’t need anything else. Now when those days are gone, travel has been the easiest way. I’m stress free and I don’t have to think about any food, presents and things like that. We haven’t even had a real Christmas tree for years. There’s just too much fuss and not forgetting the mess. You can still have a nice Christmas without it. Decorations is a good substitute for it.

No matter how and where you’re spending your holidays, don’t stress. It’s only once a year. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t cleaned up the whole household from top to bottom. No one really cares. If you don’t know what to buy to your friends and family for a present, then don’t buy anything. Spending time with your loved once are more important than spending money on junk you don’t really need. If you think presents makes Christmas than you should buy something the taker can use. Presents doesn’t need to be materialistic. There’s too much of that already. There’s so many people out there who doesn’t have anything. Donating something to charity is a good way to help. It makes other people happy and also a happy feeling for you. Helping the less fortunate is the greatest present you ever get.

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Finnish communication culture

Nokia mobile
My current mobile, Hayden

Let’s talk about the Finnish communication culture. Here even a ‘Hi’ to your neighbours seems to be the most difficult thing. Heaven forbid if you say that word to a stranger. Something horrible must happen. I really hate when I say ‘Hi’ to a person and there’s no reply. Maybe if you call a person to say it, maybe then you get a ‘Hi’ back. Especially for young people it seems to be the most difficult thing there is. If they had any manners, they would know that if the persons is older than you, then you’re the one who should say ‘Hi’ first. So what if you don’t know the person? I wonder how they get friends in the first place. We’re all strangers at first anyway. So why is a simple word such a difficult thing to say? Just a simple ‘Hi’ is enough. You don’t have to stop for a conversation.

It’s in the Finnish culture that you don’t talk to stranger if there’s not a reason to say anything. My mother told me I could greet a person anyway even if I don’t get a reply. But it’s easier said and done. I rather not say anything because I know there won’t be a ‘Hi’ back. Finns don’t talk, we nod. But a nod is better than nothing at all. I try to say ‘Hi’ to people I don’t know but when I don’t get a reply, I feel like a fool. It’s embarrassing trying to be friendly to people and then they don’t react in any way. ‘Good morning’ is a difficult thing to say for a Finn as well it seems. There’s two words in that so if must be too many to say. Sometimes Finns do say it but then they know the person. It’s the ‘talking to strangers’ that is too overwhelming. That one I do understand but that’s only because I’m an introvert and not because I’m Finnish.

My mother used to talk to strangers. But they had the look “why are you talking to me, I don’t know you” look. Especially younger people have it. You would think they would be more sophisticated when it comes to manners but it isn’t so. Finns prefer short answers and only talk to people they know. When you hear that Finns are rude, some people are. They only pretend to be friendly to tourists but the truth is they rather be left alone. It also depends what part of Finland they come from. I’ve known people who are outgoing and talkative but they’re usually from Northern Finland or born closer to Russia. If the Finn is born in the Ostrobothnia region then they are more friendly. But if they are from Southern Finland, they can be quite unfriendly. There are myths about how Finns are and some of them are true. In every country there’s always someone who seems rude so it’s not only a Finnish thing.

Even if we’re bad at communication, not all is bad. We’re honest and if we have an appointment, we always arrive in time. We’re also proud of our heritage. If you want to make a Finn happy, compliment Finland in every positive way. Even the mention Finland or Finnish in foreign media will make headlines over here. It gets better if a Finn get great success abroad. A good example is the recent Xfactor competition in the UK where Saara Aalto is taking part. For you in Europe might know what I’m talking about. Every time she has been shortlisted to the next level, there’s big headlines of it. I don’t watch that kind of shows so I don’t know anything about what that competition is really about. As long as a Finn finds success, everything is great. It’s after a Finn fails when the monsters come out and play, a.k.a. Finnish jealousy. That’s another story.

Communication in Finland means mobile phones. That’s one of the reasons why Nokia phones were so popular. If you want long conversations, call a Finn. But you need to know them first. Small talk is a swear word over here. We don’t do it no matter what. That’s the reason Facebook is more popular than Twitter. It’s easier to tell your friends on FB about what goes on in your life than telling strangers on Twitter what’s going on. If you happened to talk to a Finn face to face, it’s because they’re drunk. Other times they ignore you. It’s kind of sad really that alcohol is a way to get them talk to strangers. Especially Finnish men. You can’t have a decent conversation with drunk people. If Finns weren’t so alcohol thirsty, this country would be a better place to live in. But it’s also a good country where you have freedom to do things without having to fear authority. If people could only open they’re mouth to say ‘Hi’, it would be even a better place.

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So excited I can hide it

breakdance spinning on his head

When a Finn wins in sport or get excited of something, they don’t show emotion. The anticipation is there but we’re very good at hiding it. Unless there’s alcohol involved. Maybe it’s shyness or we’re taught of not getting too excited. Showing motion is seen as a bad thing. It’s getting better in the younger generation but still you’re not suppose jump up and down if you’re excited about something. If you do, then you’re probably drunk. Even if you’re smiling on the street, you’re seen as a lunatic. Foreigners think Finns are rude because they’re not like other people in the world. But just because you’re not acting exciting, doesn’t mean you’re not. We rejoice inside. We might clap or cheer for a moment but then move on. Our celebrations are more discrete than others. I’ve been in a couple of ice hockey games and the fans are the ones who cheer and make noise. Other viewers there only watch the game and if a goal is made, they might stand up and cheer. But most people only clap and sit still. In our sport events, there won’t be much singing and dancing like in other sports in other countries. It just isn’t common in our culture.

I used to be shy and acted the same way other Finns did at sport events. But as I got older and bolder, I wasn’t worried if someone noticed my excitement. I still wouldn’t cheer if someone else didn’t either. I would never dare to start and give an example to others. In that way I’m still a follower. As long as there’s other people around, I’m not worried about what others think.
I’m going next year to a Robbie Williams concert here in Finland. My first ever real concert I’ve been to. Unless it gets cancelled. I don’t know how I act there. Maybe I will only watch and listen or sing along. Since I never been to a concert with that many people in it, I have no idea how things can go. Finns can be loud when they want to so we’re not that cold inside. We’re not like in some countries where the audience just stands there listening and clap when the song is over. But like I wrote before, if there’s alcohol involved then people sure are more out there.

My excitements usually ends quite quickly. I’m very anticipated about things but when it comes around to it, I lose interest. Like this school I’m going to right now. I was so excited to be there but now it feels like I might not want to do it after all. It’s too hard. There’s a reason why I’m not very fond of studying. Nothing sticks in my head. I wish I could have one skill that I know I can do 100% so I didn’t have to study in school. I should be studying right now but I rather write this post or do something else. I get distracted easily and only want to do things that are fun. That’s always been my problem. I get really excited of something and the next I won’t even bother. If I do something I really like then I get back to it after doing something else. No hobbies of mine have never been a struggle so it’s not a depression. I just like different things and so what if I sometimes prefer doing something else for a change. I could have one hobby and stick with that but that’s not how I am. I love changes and I’m not afraid of it. When I really get anticipated in something, I do it for real.

 

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