The Rural Life

Five Rural Things I Love About Finland

Someone asked me the other day why I have called my new personal blog Terrier and Finns. So I feel for those that do not know me to explain… I am half Finnish.

Me and my family in Finland 1977

My mother was from Finland and made her life in the UK when she met my father around five decades ago. She made sure that the Finnish way of life was instilled into us as children which I have carried on into my adult life. I love the country and all its quirks! Finland has nature and the countryside very much at its heart, so I thought you might find these rural facts about this beautiful Scandinavian country interesting:

The Land Of A Thousand Lakes

In Finland, there is one lake for every twenty-six people. Drive through this country in the summer and you will find two colours that dominate the scenery: blue and green. The landscape is a mix of forest and over 188,000 vivid blue lakes surrounding this beautiful Scandanavian country. The Finns certainly have an infinity with water, with most having their homes on the lakeside or holiday cottages where they spend their summers.

The lake I share with 25 other people!

Watersports are a mindful way of living for the Finnish with kayaking, rowing and sailing being popular pastimes when the warmer months arrive. With most summer houses having saunas, skinny dipping comes naturally by running and jumping into the clear waters of the Finnish lakes to cool off!

Beautiful Birch

The silver birch tree has a special position in the Finnish landscape owing to its pale greenness and in the winter its silver sharp silhouette. With ten trees for every Finnish person, the country has forestry very deep rooted in its culture with a particular love for the silver birch tree.

Silver birch among the Finnish forest

This silvery tree is versatile in its uses: birch sap, bark, birch tar, wood for axe handles and as firewood which is why this tree is so synonymous to Finland. Not only are its leafy twigs collected and tied in bundles for winter fodder for sheep and other animals, but the birch whisk is also traditional for use in saunas. I shall tell you more about that later!

The Fantastic Finn Horse

Being half Finnish and having the equine bug, I am very interested in horses that are popular in Scandinavia but particularly in Finland. The Finn Horse is a popular breed in the country and is used for both riding and draught work too. It is the only cold blood breed to be developed in Finland. The Finn Horse is sometimes known as the “Finnish Universal”  as it is a brilliant horse for agricultural and forestry work, harness racing, and riding. In 2007, the breed was declared the official national horse breed of Finland.

The fantastic Finn Horse

This super breed of horse is also well-suited to everyday riding, being calm and steady, hard-working, obedient, healthy and enduring.  Many have also been trained for driving, and therefore are familiar with unusual noises and can be controlled from behind easily. All in all, they make a very hardy but versatile breed but not many Finn horses are seen in the UK.

Sweat Your Socks Off In The Sauna

With a population of just five million, over half of the households in Finland have a sauna. The sauna may be deemed to be a luxury but the Finns think saunas as a necessity in their lives. It is a place to relax with friends and family but most importantly it is associated with strong healing and wellness benefits. Regular sauna bathing is highly effective in the treatment of many ailments and diseases, so these hot rooms are very beneficial to your health physically and mentally.

A traditional Finnish sauna

The best thing to wear (and definitely not socks) in the sauna is probably nothing! But with modern day, public saunas will insist on a bathing suit or a carefully wrapped towel to cover your modesty. With water being splashed on the hot coals, you can add eucalyptus or lavender to help clear sinuses or just take in the medicinal benefits from the oils. As mentioned earlier, branches of birch leaves are tied together which is known as vihta” which you beat against your skin to flush out toxins in the heat. When the heat becomes too much, the tradition is to run out to the lake and jump in to cool down! You will certainly feel very energised after!

Wild Weather Contrasts

The most obvious contrast in Finland is the seasons. The same lake where the Finnish swim, sail or fish in summer forms a perfect skating rink or skiing arena in the winter. Warm, light and long summer nights gradually shorten, kissing goodbye to many daylight hours in the winter.

Winters are tough

I tend to only visit Finland in the summer as it never gets completely dark. In early July the sun is down only a couple of hours a day, and even then you can still see it peeping over the horizon. Temperatures in the summer are comfortable but can rise to up to thirty degrees making it a super place to visit for some Scandinavian summer sun.

Stunning summers evening by a Finnish lake

Winter can be harsh with only a few hours in the day giving you daylight. In Finland depending on the part of the country, winter varies in duration from about three to seven months. Regardless of location, it is always cold, dark and snowy. But that does not disrupt life. Finns will get to work or school in the morning no matter about the biting cold or how much snow has fallen. This is why the Finns are known to be hardy and have grit or resilliance. Also known as “sisu“…

Northern Lights

Like many Nordic countries, Finland has some of the world’s best “Freedom to Roam” opportunities. This means that you can pitch a tent, forage for wild blueberries or fish in the lakes for free without worry. This makes Finland a fantastic rural place to visit.

I have such lovely memories of spending time with my family in Finland and it still continues to be a big part of my life. It is a country which has a very special place in my heart.

Image credits: Haynet/iStock/Pixabay