Finland is famous for its changing seasons. Summers are full of light and winters, on the other hand, are the darkest of the dark.
The period when the sun doesn't rise above the horizon lasts precisely 51 days in the very north of Finland. This period is often referred to as the polar night. Other areas see only a couple of hours of daylight during the darkest time of the year, and the longest day is only 6 hours long in the south. Many Finns describe the autumn time and especially November as the worst time of the year. Snow hasn’t necessarily arrived yet and as it might rain a fair bit, it’s easy to feel lower than usual.
You know the winter is coming when Finnish blogs and magazines share survival tips for the dark months. Good tips are needed indeed as the darkness affects most of the people in a way or another.
However, it’s not always as bad as it sounds. Us Finns are known for creativity and we have come up with different ways to survive the darkness, enjoy ourselves and charge our batteries for spring and summer.
We have listed some typical winter activities below!
Go ice swimming and mingle with chatty Finns in a sauna
One of the most refreshing activities for your mind and body in the winter is ice swimming. Believe us, it’s a great activity although the idea of swimming in not-so-human-friendly water temperatures might sound like a form of torture at first. Most ice swimming venues you have access to sauna, which makes the experience more bearable (ice swimming without sauna is too extreme for most Finns, too!).
Sauna is the place where most Finns get quite chatty so they are great places to learn more about our culture. Be prepared for high temperatures as some hardcore sauna goers think the hotter the better!
There is no winter without pikkujoulut!
“Pikkujoulut” stands for Pre-Christmas parties, and is a vital part of our Christmas tradition. The season starts as early as November and continues until mid-December. Most companies arrange their own parties and it’s typical to host a pikkujoulu party with friends, too. It’s a great way to have fun with your favourite people and forget the weather outside.
There is no reason to be shy here, so we can reveal that the parties can occasionally get quite wild. Especially some company parties are something people talk about months after, as the presumably free alcohol has an effect on people. Or so we have heard!
Pikkujoulut can also mean a lovely evening with friends. It’s a great occasion to dress up, go crazy with glitter and listen to jolly Christmas songs. Make sure you won’t forget the Finnish mulled wine, glögi and cinnamon bread!
Enjoy your home time
The world famous Danish concept of “hygge” is quite a big deal in Finland. However, us Finns call it “kotoilu”, which means enjoying the cosiness of your home.
When it’s dark outside, there is nothing better than being cosy on your couch, read a good book and wrap yourself in a soft blanket. You get bonus “kotoilu” points for a candle and a lovely cup of tea or hot chocolate! (watching Netflix is ok, too)
Some of us, however, feel the lack of light affects the mind significantly. One solution to this is buying a special, bright lamp to one’s home. The lamp produces bright artificial light and has a positive effect on one’s mind. It's hardly seen in southern countries and one would describe it as a typical yet exotic Finnish winter gear.
Insider hygge tip for Kuopio: we have recently discovered a new restaurant that all hygge lovers would approve, Hygge Bro. The restaurant is decorated in a cosy Nordic way and has a cool view over the famous marketplace. Hygge Bro also has a strong focus on local products such as beer and coffee (from our local RPS brewery). If you want to see what is the Nordic cosiness everyone is crazy about, this is the right address.
Our short summer is considered as a care free holiday time, and in autumn it’s time to get organised and busy again. Autumn means a fresh start to many Finns, and is a popular time to start new hobbies and try new things. Many start a new sport, learn a new language (the Finns seem to have a thing for the Spanish language!) or engage in cultural activities. This is important as new hobbies mean more routines and something to look forward to.
So now it’s the great time to start learning something new. How does a Finnish course sound to you? Or a skiing class?
Ps. Remember to buy a good reflector for your own safety!
Our popular sauna boat trips are will take place later this spring - dates will be confirmed asap.