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What bits of “home” have you kept?

December 22, 2014

So now you live in Finland and you’re slowly but surely integrating into society. You like a lot things that Finns do, eat, drink, watch, take part in, etc., however, there are habits that you retain from your home country. What are they?

I mean I have been here a long time and I had to give this some thought when I decided to write this entry.

I display Canadian things in my house (i.e the flag) The Mr. once remarked many years ago how he was kind of annoyed with the flag-waving we Canadians do. And at one point I actually agreed with him – and I felt annoyed by the maple leaf! These days they fit into the decor of our house and are not so “in your face” except maybe the two-metre long windsock in our back yard.


I listen to the local morning show on the Internet (CBC Sudbury) and read Canadian news daily. Although I do read Finnish news (in Finnish and English) on a daily basis too.

Food: muffins, chili, soup – I still make these favourites a lot. I have a hankering for corn meal muffins though and still have not seen any corn meal in my local stores.

I eat peanut butter – the Mr. turns his nose up at the stuff. I just can’t consume meat three times a day like he does…

If you offer me a birthday cake I’d prefer chocolate cake or carrot cake. There are excellent cakes in Finland, but when it comes down to it, I still long for the cakes of my childhood. (Or a Dairy Queen ice cream cake!)

When visitors from Canada come to our house they are often laden with things like red licorice, coffee and Doritos. 🙂 We will never say no to these things. The Mr. is just nuts for red Twizzlers.

Holiday celebrations: Canada Day, well that is just a must! I always find some excuse to take a holiday on Canada Day. If it’s a holiday in Canada, then good heavens, it must be a holiday for me too in Finland. Good thing it falls on July 1, most people are in summer mode by then anyways.

Other Canadian celebrations? There is a core group of us who get together annually to celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving in October. We usually turn it into a potluck affair and it always goes well! In conjunction with the Suomi-Kanada Seura (the Finnish-Canadian Society) we have also started celebrating Victoria Day (the last Monday before May 25). These days it is associated with camp (cottage) life, time to spend partying with friends (hence the slang name May Two-Four) and it is the kick-off of spring. By the time Victoria Day comes and goes in Finland, people are long into their spring routines – we have Vappu on May 1 to get us started.

Christmas stockings and decorating: My Christmas tree is always full – by comparison my in-laws don’t like a “busy” tree, they prefer to keep it simple. Christmas Day is still important to me – more than Christmas Eve. Even after all this time it still feels odd to open presents on Christmas Eve. I look forward to stockings on Christmas Day. I also remember working on Christmas Eve, and it still feels strange that it is a day off here.

I lamented earlier today on the Facebook page for Life in Finland, “At Christmas time I really miss Christmas carols that I am familiar with. After all this time, the ones that are popular in Finland just have not grown on me. Is that wrong? :-/”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2014 1:20 pm

    It is interesting to read how you guys do it, which habits you’ve taken into your Finnish life! My kiwi husband always hated Christmas carols but can tolerate the Swedish ones (maybe because he doesn’t have a choice?!) 😉 He has brought the Christmas stockings to our house as well as a cooked bacon and egg styled breakfast/brunch on the weekends. Come to think of it, food-wise our home is quite influenced by the kiwi kitchen, he has even taught me to make bacon and egg, potato top and other pies. Raspberry liquorice is a favourite and ANZAC day gets celebrated. There probably is more but even I am so used to those features that I don’t really think of them as something “not Finnish”.

  2. Sonia permalink
    December 22, 2014 6:13 pm

    Oh wow, there is a nation displaying the flag more than Finns? I would not guess! This is certainly not the case for me; I still find it awkward to wave a German flag, but soccer success slowly but surely healed our trauma. Yet, as soon as you do it, there will be always someone reminding you of the past. Well. National holiday (we actually did not have one for years) is nothing but a long weekend, and I would not have a Facebook wall paved with everyone’s wishing Happy National Day. Still, I learnt in Finland to value what good we have – and we have a lot. Us, who are not anymore to blame for the past history.

    I have to visit often – otherwise I get mad. Just the lifestyle, the possibilities, the neat places to visit, the events full of people, the freedom to sip your beer or wine wherever YOU want, the far warmer social contacts among strangers.

    My satellite TV – it’s also full of crap reality shows and US-stuff, but it teaches my hubby the language (and keeps up my skills). He made a huge progress! And there is a variety of quality programs and reports, too. Of course I am not keen anymore on synchronized movies (as a language person), although Bruce Willis sounds even more sexy with a rough bad boy voice in German, rrrr…

    Manners, attention and politeness – as mentioned before, I still try to greet when entering and keep doors open for the next to come. Even I sometimes don’t get a response and next time my nose is smashed with a swinging door. It’s just so sad.

    Advent – I am not really a xmas person, but christmas markets just don’t work here. There is no spirit in the air. I even asked the Finnish hubby this week while on Tuomaan markinnat “And, …how is it compared to Cologne?” Answer was “Mäh”, especially because we could not visit this year like usually. I can confirm it. “Mäh”. I also miss Xmas carols, but I get them in a small portion at Unioninkatu 1.

    Customer service – getting better, but still rather an exception than a rule. Even in the time of “automation”, getting a real personal touch is so much nicer. And I miss it.

    Fresh bread and buns – well, Lidl baking point is a weak alternative, but better than nothing. I really miss small shops: bakeries, butchers, etc. Those who are rather interested in customer binding than boosting their prices.

  3. December 30, 2014 11:57 am

    Oh I would die for a Dairy Queen Ice Cream cake right now! Even though it’s snowing outside and feels like -15 (though I just checked my weather app and it says it’s +2 in Turku, can that be right?!)

    I just had my first Finnish Christmas with my Finnish husband and his family. It was a lot of fun, but very different from what I’m used to! My husband was the lucky one who got to play Santa on Christmas Eve and showed up with the presents. I must say, things are a whole lot easier in North America where Santa comes while the kids are sleeping! I kept my mouth shut…don’t want to mess with tradition 🙂

    In regards to your comments about CORNMEAL…I did a bunch of “research” (aka skimming random recipe blogs) and learned that it’s almost the same as Polenta, which you can buy here (I got it at Prisma). I made cornbread with it and it tasted the same to me as cornbread from back home. Not sure if that helps?

    Hyvaa joulua! (Sorry, I’m on my laptop and it doesn’t have the Finnish keys!)

  4. January 8, 2015 1:34 am

    I do not know Helsinki well, but I think you can get cornmeal in ethnic shops, e.g. Chinese of Somali.

    I don’t live in Finland but have visited countless times and love it. What I miss living away from home is the friendliness of people. In Zambia, an entire bus can be engaged in a running conversation with different participants getting involved as passengers get off and others get in. I miss the spontaneity of life. I happened to be in a Nordic country for New Year’s eve and went to watch fireworks. At the stroke of 12.00 am, what did I hear from the crowd? Silence. No one cheered, no one danced and no one hugged a stranger who happened to be standing next to them. People only hugged those they knew, but I guess that’s their culture. I have found many foods that I eat back home or very similar substitutes, so I am mostly fine on the food front.

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