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Non-truths about Finland

October 17, 2012

Have you fallen into the myths about Finland trap?

Myths, you say?

Here are a couple things that some people believed (or still believe) about Finland.

Myth: There a polar bears in Finland.

Fact: There are no polar bears in Finland. The closest polar bears are likely in Svalbard (Norway) or somewhere in the Russian high Arctic. Do not believe the hoaky tourist postcards that show polar bears in the middle of Helsinki. <Shakes head> It’s just not true!

Myth: Nokia (the mobile phone maker) is Japanese.

Fact: I think this is one myth that can firmly be buried for good. I am sure that the entire world knows now that Nokia is not Japanese – and never has been. Though this idea still perpetuated in the minds of some of my Canadian family members and friends even as recently as 2001. Our beloved, but-currently-taking-a-beating, Nokia is indeed Finnish – for the time being.

Myth: When it is the darkest time of the year in Finland, it is dark all day long.

Fact: When I spent my first winter in Finland it was dark – as it always is in November and December. I spent my first Christmas here in Rovaniemi, near the Arctic Circle. And when people told me, “Oh it’s so dark up there!” I really believed them and thought we would be in 24-hour darkness. That’s not really true because it did get light for a few hours during the day and here I was thinking it was going to be pitch black outside. If I wanted the pitch black, I suppose I would have to head further north, like say, Utsjoki to see 24 hour darkness? Can anyone from the far north comment on this?

Myth: The midnight sun means 24 hours of bright light all day, every day for many weeks.

Fact: This is only true for the far north of the country. Otherwise here in Espoo where I live, we experience a few hours of twilight at the height of the summer. It is not dark, but not light either. The truth is once we start heading in either direction (more sun after the winter solstice or less sun after the summer solstice) – we lose / gain five minutes of daylight a day. Right now it is all downhill from here – ask me again in January and I may start feeling more chipper again.

Where is Finland anyways?

Yes, unfortunately Finland doesn’t come up on the top of the geographical radar for many people. And when confronted with Finland for the first time, many people pull out a globe or an atlas to landmark themselves. You see, us foreign-born folk KNOW that Finland is up in the northeast corner of Europe, we’re just not entirely sure where. So yes, back in 1996 when I realized that I was going to be coming here to travel around, I did my homework. And even though my roots are here, my interest was not piqued, as I wrote, until I knew was coming here. I impressed my relatives with my basic Finnish knowledge and got ooohs and ahhhs when I spoke a few words and even knew who the current president was (at that time Martti Ahtisaari).

There are a couple of articles out there that discuss myths in Finland. Enjoy! Have a laugh!
Seven myths about Finland (HS International, November 2003)
Finland – MYTHS. (Funny site actually, :D)
Great Myths in Finnish Society (Savon Sanomat, September 2009)

Any myths you’d like to share?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 4:26 pm

    Reblogged this on crocodile years and commented:
    This totally seemed important.

  2. gindianaHHX permalink
    October 18, 2012 1:52 am

    The polar night is not completely pitch black throughout, unless you are very close to a pole. In fact, some of the day is always properly classified as polar twilight, where there still is quite a bit more light than during the night. This applies everywhere in Finland

  3. October 18, 2012 4:19 pm

    When I moved here in February, I was surprised to see the sun at 8 am and 6pm. I thought the days would be shorter than that. I was also surprised that it wasn’t as bright at Midsummer as I thought it would be. I have yet to experience December yet…I’ll admit to being scared by the myth!

    I still laugh at this (it’s an early entry on my blog): When I told a woman I know that I was moving to Finland, she said, “Finland…is that near New Zealand?” Hand. To. God. I’m a geography nut, so I knew where it was – just never actually thought I’d be here! 😀

  4. Jussi Dancingbear permalink
    October 23, 2012 3:33 pm

    Another myth: Every Finn is born with a saw in one hand and a hammer in the other. That USED to be true, even as recently as half a century ago, but not anymore. Nowadays every Finn is born with a hockey stick in one hand and a cell phone in the other… 😉

  5. November 19, 2012 11:39 am

    There is a myth about Russia that supposedly bears roam the city streets. What about Finland? 😉

    • November 20, 2012 9:38 am

      Well, there’s the postcards from Helsinki depicting bears walking on the downtown streets – pretty hilarious. But where I come from in Canada the bears do in fact roam the streets!!

  6. Halkybod permalink
    October 24, 2014 10:59 am

    Where did the Polar Bears in Finland myth originate?

  7. ScubaPrinter permalink
    July 10, 2016 9:55 pm

    Well i finish so those myths sounds familiar


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