For someone like me who is from the tropical region, frozen Finland is nothing short of a wonderland. Being in the Gulf sector means deserts, camels, sandstorms, and temperature averaging 45°C are normal. Quite the contrary is the scenario in Finland. Icy lakes, reindeer, snowfalls and freezing temperature rule the roost. With multiple natural locations to visit, frozen Finland attracts tourists for icy adventures and lots more.
Frozen Finland seems to have warm-hearted people as well. Suvi Ojala is one such kindhearted person. A Finnish student and photographer, Suvi was more than willing to help me with this imaginary ride through frozen Finland.
The northernmost region of Finland is known as Lapland. With its long winters, the country is mostly enveloped in snow. People only see Lapland as a destination to travel to and rarely realize that people live there. The best of frozen Finland is enjoyed between October-January. Beyond being a winter wonderland, the freezing temperatures pose their own risks and challenges. How do you cope with the cold? Layers and layers of clothes help mostly. They use the skin/fur of reindeers to make warm clothes. And also, by getting used to the climate.
The Land of a Thousand Lakes turns to be a frozen paradise for those who love winter and snow. (The actual number of lakes is way more than tens of thousands in Finland).
Long winters mark Finns' calendar. During winter, the sun sets early. The sunlight is a precious thing in Lapland during winter. Kaamos aka polar nights is part of their climate. When you live mostly in -15°C, a +5°C feels like summer. During winter there can be snow up to 2-3 meters and it takes really long time to melt.
Finns have specific words for different kinds of snow. There is a word for soft snow, for dusty snow, for wet snow. Juhannus or yötön yö aks midsummer is when they have the ‘nightless night' or polar day. The sun doesn't set in Lapland at all during this period. A natural phenomenon when the day is much longer than night. It is one of the wonders of Frozen Finland. And people flock in to wonder at this phenomenon.
The Saami are the indigenous people of Finland. Sápmi is the region the Saami inhabit across four countries, consisting of northern parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway and parts of Russia. Then there are the ethnic Finns who are seen all over the country and beyond.
From handshakes to kisses to asking, “how are you”, there is a plethora of things you need to care about when in Finland. Finnish conversations and phrases used can be totally different from other cultures. Follow Finn's norms on food or reindeer or forest while you are there. The Finnish language is pronounced the same as it is written, unlike English. The younger generation of Finns speaks English and Swedish too besides Finnish.
Food and Beverages
Finns have some of the exceptional foods at their dining table. Sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) is one of their main delicacies. However, reindeer meat is expensive and isn't a very “daily” thing in Finland. It is more common in Lapland than in the rest of Finland.
Breakfast items usually comprise rye bread sandwiches, Puuro, quark with berries and coffee. Their breakfast menu usually consists of fewer or little sweet items. And for lunch they enjoy lohikeitto, Kaalikääryleet, Poronkäristys, Karjalanpiirakka, Mustikkapiirakka, Herring, Crayfish, Salmiakki kossu, etc. Finnish dinner usually comprises Lapland Bread Cheese, Smoked arctic char, Smoked Salmon, Valkosipuli Soup, Lohikeitto, Reindeer and Mustamakkara.
Finns love their coffee. Moomin mugs and Kuksa cups are popular among the Finns. Kuksa is a traditionally carved and crafted cup from a birch tree by the Sami people. They usually don't drink alcohol during the day. And are reserved about their drinking habits.
Extremely thankful to Johanna Nykänen for the videos and inputs especially on food in Finland.
Finland has hardly any mountains but is known for its forested hills. 75% of Finland is covered in forest. Bruce and Pine trees cover major portion of the forest in Finland. Although trees drop their leaves during autumn Bruce and Pine retain a bit of green through the winter.
Forests in Lapland turn beautifully colourful. It is known as Ruska. It is the best period of autumn in Finland. Visitors and locals go on trekking through forests in the fall just to enjoy the vibrant colours the forests put on. you can just be mesmerized by the foliage in the forest.
If you thought Reindeer is the national animal of Finland, you are wrong. The Brown bear is the national animal of Finland. Whooper Swan is their national bird. Reindeers are seen across northern Finland. Surprisingly they are common only in northern Finland. Then there are different species of birds and animals that can be seen around in the country.
Sauna. You think of a Finnish house and the first thing that can strike you is the sauna. Finland has more saunas than cars! Come winter and you will realize why so. The interior works of houses in Finland are so superior and meticulously done. The interiors remain warm always and the water pipes don't freeze. Obviously, they have insulation works done so well enough to maintain the warmth inside. Forest cabins are popular too. People camp, cook and enjoy a sauna in these cabins.
Strange Sports & Games
Finland is popular for several peculiar sports activities. Wife carrying world championship, reindeer racing, cell phone throwing, air guitar world championship, winter swimming, rubber boot throwing, etc. are some of them.
Best Time to Visit
Placed above the Arctic Circle means Lapland experiences strange polar phenomena. Sun never setting or sun never rising is not strange for Finns. These usually happen in June and December respectively. Through March-April, you have more daylight making it the best time to visit the Lapland. Visiting between December and February means an opportunity to witness the Northern Lights.
A Travel enthusiast and Foodie, craving to explore the intricate beauty of nature and its gift of delectable treats. Pens down his thoughts and experiences to present a delightful journey for his readers