I love writing about Finland fun facts. Our country is full of those!
Let me introduce you to ten inseparable Finnish couples, each telling their own story about Finnish culture and heritage.
10 inseparable Finnish pairs
#1 Liver casserole and lingonberry jam
Liver casserole (in Finnish: maksalaatikko) was Finland’s first ready-meal in 1957 and has been a success story ever since.
This traditional dish is made of ground liver, rice, onion, raisins, and spices. The flavor combination is perfect when served with lingonberry jam.
#2 Viivi and Wagner
A hugely popular newspaper comic strip about the relationship of a vegetarian student woman (Viivi) and a real pig (Wagner) whose favorite hobbies are to drink beer and be a couch potato.
In many Finnish homes (mine too!), reading this comic strip is a must at the breakfast table. Also, don’t be surprised if you are visiting a Finnish company and find a strip copied to the office kitchen, printing room or toilet.
Viivi & Wagner started appearing in 1997, so the collection of stories is massive and also partly available in English.
#3 An adult education center and August
In every town in Finland, there are activities and hobbies arranged very inexpensively by adult education centers (in Finnish: kansalaisopisto or työväenopisto).
They offer a wide range of language, art, sport and social science studies along with practical courses about IT, cooking and crafts. The quality of teaching is excellent.
The adult education center operations started at the beginning of 20th century in Finland. I think it is one of the best innovations of leisure time and learning, giving all people possibilities to educate themselves in a variety of ways.
The enrollment period is in August, and you must be fast to book your place for your studies.
#4 Sauna and throwing water on the stove
A Finn is in horror if he walks into a sauna and finds no water to throw on the stove!
This kind of wannabe sauna is torture for us as it kills the essence of sauna experience; being able to adjust the amount of steam and hotness, listening to the sizzling sound of water drying on the stove.
Occasionally I have been so desperate abroad with this situation that I have even resorted to carrying water with my hands into the sauna.
#5 Hayflower and Quiltshoe
A charming children’s book series about two sisters and their adventures (in Finnish: Heinähattu ja Vilttitossu). Two sisters author the stories, and many of the events come from their own experiences.
I rolled on the floor laughing when reading these books as a child. They are very popular and also filmed into family movies in Finland. The books have been translated into nine languages. At least Swedish, Estonian, Japan and Lithuanian versions are available.
#6 Long johns and winter
To my ear, the English term “long johns” is as sexy as the Finnish equivalent of “pitkät kalsarit” (Maybe some of my dear native readers can verify?).
Anyway, long johns are a staple clothing item for Finnish winter. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t own a pair nor I cannot understand how anyone would survive a winter without them.
Long johns are the best, no matter how ugly they are. I have three pairs.
#7 Firstborn and baby box
In Finland, expectant mothers receive a maternity package (aka baby box) as a gift from the government.
This box has a lot of needed things for the baby’s first year, e.g., quality in- and outdoor clothes, bedding things, and baby products. The box itself doubles as a crib.
The tradition is almost 80 years old. First boxes were given out in 1938 to help decrease infant mortality rate, and in Finland, it is one of the lowest in the world. Pretty much all Finnish families take the box at least for their firstborn.
#8 Christmas and ham
Xmas traditions are unique to every country. In Finland, the most classic Christmas food is ham.
The perfect pork is first hunted in stores (many options: Organic, Frozen, Danish), then cooked for hours in the oven and finally served with mustard, peas and dried plums. Eating of the ham will continue three days, and then everybody is fed up with the taste of it. Until next Christmas, of course!
#9 Wizard ‘Väinämöinen’ and Finnish zither
The old wizard ‘Väinämöinen’ is the main character of the Finnish national epic ‘Kalevala’. Playing the zither and singing is his magical force.
Spoiler alert: Väinämöinen desperately wants to find a wife but his quests are unfortunate and not even the zither can help with finding a spouse.
#10 School and mental calculation
The Finnish primary school has always relied on mental calculations.
A math test almost always includes a mental calculation section and mental calculations are also trained separately as “little tests”. Pretty much all kids hate these, but the impact on the brain is substantial.
What are other inseparable Finnish pairs out there? Please leave your comment below!