Magical Finnish winter

15 Surprising Things Finland is Known For

You may have heard some facts about Finland already such as Finland being the worlds happiest country or Finland having the highest consumption of Coffee per capita. But we are sure that at least some of these 15 facts will be new to you! Strap in and get ready to learn about the more obscure sides of Finland and it’s culture!

1. Heavy Metal Music

Finland boasts a vibrant heavy metal music scene, with top-notch bands like Children of Bodom, Nightwish, and Sonata Arctica. The country even hosts a multitude of dedicated heavy metal festivals, such as the Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, held annually in Helsinki or Ruisrock held annually on the island of Ruissalo in Turku.

Finland has the highest concentration of heavy metal bands in the world. Finland boasts an incredible 70.6 metal bands per 100 thousand inhabitants! This is closely followed by our neighbor to the west Sweden with 45.5 metal bands per 100 thousand inhabitants.

One of the most prominent Finnish metal bands is Nightwish, formed in 1996. The band’s music features symphonic elements and operatic vocals, with lyrics often drawing inspiration from Finnish mythology and folklore. Their music has been widely successful both in Finland and internationally, with numerous chart-topping albums and sold-out tours.

Another well-known Finnish metal band is Children of Bodom, formed in 1993. Their music features a combination of melodic death metal and power metal, with fast-paced guitar riffs and intricate solos. The band has also been known to incorporate elements of classical music and jazz into their sound.

Apocalyptica is a unique Finnish metal band that uses cellos instead of guitars as their main instruments. The band’s music is a blend of classical music and heavy metal, with intricate cello arrangements and powerful drum beats. Apocalyptica has collaborated with several well-known musicians, including Metallica and Slipknot, and has released multiple chart-topping albums.

Overall, Finnish heavy metal music is characterized by its unique sound, combining traditional heavy metal with elements of folk, classical, and even jazz music. The Finnish metal scene has produced many successful and internationally recognized bands, making it a vibrant and dynamic part of the global metal community.

2. Wife-Carrying Championships

An unusual but captivating competition, the Wife-Carrying World Championships, takes place in the charming town of Sonkajärvi every year. The event features male competitors carrying their female partners through a challenging obstacle course. The winning couple receives the wife’s weight in beer!

The origins of the event are unclear, but it is believed to have started as a way for men to show off their strength and endurance while also having fun with their partners. The first official wife carrying championships were held in 1992, and since then, the event has grown in popularity, attracting competitors from all over the world.

The rules of the competition require that the male competitor carry their female partner over various obstacles, including water pools, steep hills, and sand pits. The course is around 250 meters long and the winning team is determined by the fastest time.

The event has gained a reputation for being a lighthearted and fun competition, with many participants and spectators dressing up in costumes and cheering on the competitors. However, it is also a serious competition, with skilled athletes training hard to compete at the highest level.

3. Air Guitar World Championships

Music lovers can also revel in the Air Guitar World Championships, held in Oulu each year. Participants from all corners of the globe compete by miming playing an imaginary guitar to a backing track.

The competition is open to anyone who is willing to give it a go, regardless of their skill level or nationality. Contestants perform a 1-minute routine, using an imaginary guitar to mimic playing a real guitar to a chosen song. They are judged based on technical ability, showmanship, and stage presence.

The event has gained popularity in Finland and around the world, with competitors and spectators alike embracing the lighthearted and entertaining nature of air guitar. The competition has even been recognized by the Finnish government as an official cultural export.

The event has helped to raise money for various charities over the years. It has also inspired other air guitar competitions around the world, including the US Air Guitar Championships, the UK Air Guitar Championships, and the Australian Air Guitar Championships!

4. Reindeer Racing

In Finland’s northern Lapland region, reindeer racing is a thrilling sport that draws spectators from far and wide. Competitors ride on sleds pulled by these majestic animals, with races reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h!

The sport has deep cultural significance in Lapland, where reindeer herding has been a way of life for the indigenous Sami people for generations. Reindeer racing is considered an important part of their culture and heritage, and is celebrated through various events and competitions throughout the year.

In Finland, reindeer racing is primarily held during the winter months when the ground is covered in snow. The races take place on specially designed tracks, which can range in length from a few hundred meters to several kilometers. The races can be done individually or in teams, with the animals pulling sleds or skiers.

The sport is popular with locals and tourists alike, with many visitors coming to Lapland specifically to watch or participate in reindeer racing. The races are often accompanied by other cultural events, such as traditional music and dance performances, and are a great way to experience the unique culture and traditions of the Sami people.

In recent years, reindeer racing has also gained attention as a competitive sport, with various national and international competitions being held around the world. The World Reindeer Racing Championships, for example, is an annual event that attracts competitors from Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia.

5. Ice Swimming

A popular pastime in Finland, ice swimming is an invigorating experience believed to have numerous health benefits. Many locations around the country offer opportunities to take a dip in icy waters.

In Finland, ice swimming has been practiced for centuries. It is said to help boost circulation, increase energy levels, and improve overall well-being. The activity typically takes place in specially designated areas, which may include ice holes or saunas located near frozen lakes or rivers. Participants usually wear a swimsuit or other light clothing, along with a hat and gloves to help keep them warm. Before entering the water, they may also perform a few warm-up exercises to help prepare their bodies for the cold.

Once in the water, participants typically stay in for a few minutes before getting out to warm up. Some people even enjoy jumping back into the water multiple times, alternating between the icy plunge and a warm sauna or hot tub. This experience is believed to help improve circulation and reduce stress levels, leaving participants feeling energized and refreshed.

6. Moomin

Created by acclaimed Finnish author Tove Jansson, the Moomins are a beloved children’s book and cartoon series that has become a cultural phenomenon in Finland. The first Moomin book was published in 1945 and was followed by a series of novels and picture books that have captivated readers of all ages ever since. The books are known for their whimsical, imaginative storytelling and charming illustrations, which bring the magical world of the Moomins to life.

The Moomin stories have also been adapted into various forms of media, including television shows, films, and even a theme park in Finland! The Moomin characters have become beloved icons of Finnish culture, with Moomin merchandise and products available around the world.

One of the reasons why the Moomin books have resonated with so many people is because of their universal themes and messages. The stories often explore themes of family, friendship, love, and adventure, and offer a comforting and reassuring view of the world.

In Finland, the Moomin books have become a part of the national identity, with many Finns growing up reading and loving the stories. The Moomin characters are often used to promote Finnish culture and tourism, and their popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

These whimsical creatures are featured on a variety of merchandise, from mugs and plates to clothing and bedsheets. Almost every store in Finland will have some kind of Moomin branded product. Collecting Moomin mugs has become a wide spread phenomenon in Finland with some of the rarest mugs selling for thousands of euros to dedicated collectors!

7. Heavy Metal Church

As fact number one already stated Finns absolutely love heavy metal! But they take it even further than just hosting festivals. A unique and fascinating place of worship, the Church of the Heavy Metal Trinity in Kerava embraces Finland’s heavy metal culture. The church hosts heavy metal concerts and services, with murals of famous musicians adorning its walls.

The Church of Heavy Metal was founded by a group of Finnish metal fans who felt that there was a need for a church that embraced their love of heavy metal music. The church’s services are conducted in a traditional manner, with hymns and prayers set to the tune of heavy metal music. The church’s founder has said that their mission is to “spread the word of heavy metal” and to create a community where metal fans can come together to worship and celebrate their shared love of the genre.

Despite its unconventional approach to worship, the Church of Heavy Metal has gained a following among metal fans around the world. The church has been featured in numerous media outlets and has even attracted the attention of well-known metal bands, who have performed at the church’s services.

The church’s message of acceptance and inclusivity has also resonated with many people. The church welcomes people of all backgrounds and beliefs, and its services offer a unique and uplifting experience for those who share a love of heavy metal music.

8. Nokia

A lot of people will remember their first phone. For many that first phone was the affordable and durable classic Nokia 3310. Virtually indestructible! I bet if you found yours now it would still turn on after not being charged for 20 years! Nokia was once the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer. Though it has faced challenges in recent years, it remains an integral part of Finland’s history and economy.

9. Santa Claus Village

Many countries claim to be the true home country of Santa Claus. But deep down we all know that Finland is Santa’s one and only true home! In Rovaniemi, visitors can immerse themselves in the magical world of Santa Claus by visiting his village.

The Santa Claus Village is open year-round and attracts visitors from all over the world who come to experience the magic of Christmas in the Arctic Circle. The village is home to Santa Claus’ office, where visitors can meet Santa Claus himself and take photos with him. Children can also send letters to Santa from the village’s post office, where they will receive a special Santa Claus stamp on their letter.

The village also features a range of shops, restaurants, and activities, such as reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, and husky safaris. Visitors can also explore the village’s Christmas-themed park, which features a range of colorful Christmas lights, sculptures, and displays.

During the winter months, the Santa Claus Village is covered in snow and ice, adding to its magical atmosphere. The village also offers the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights, a natural light display that is visible in the Arctic region.

10. Sauna World Championships

While no longer active, the Sauna World Championships were a highly anticipated annual event in Finland from 1999 to 2010. Participants competed by sitting in a hot sauna for as long as possible, with the winner being the last to leave. Finnish sauna is often considered to be the most intense as temperatures regularly reach 100°C.

The competition was held in Heinola, a small town in southern Finland, and attracted competitors from all over the world. The rules were simple: contestants had to sit in a sauna at a temperature of 110°C (230°F) and try to last as long as possible. The last person to remain in the sauna was declared the winner.

Despite no longer being around, the Sauna World Championship was a unique and fascinating event that showcased Finland’s rich sauna culture. Saunas are an integral part of Finnish culture, and the country is home to over two million saunas, which are used for relaxation, socializing, and health purposes.

11. Angry Birds

A wildly popular mobile game, Angry Birds was developed by Finnish game developer Rovio Entertainment. It has since become a global phenomenon, spawning numerous spin-offs and merchandise.

Angry Birds is a popular mobile game that was created by the Finnish company Rovio Entertainment. The game was first released for iOS devices in 2009 and quickly became a worldwide sensation, with millions of people downloading the game and playing it on their smartphones and tablets.

The success of Angry Birds helped to establish Rovio Entertainment as one of the leading mobile game developers in the world. The company has since released a range of other popular mobile games, including Bad Piggies and Angry Birds 2.

12. Summer Cottage Culture

During the pandemic many countries started adopting the summer cottage culture. Having a little cottage away from the city to relax has something magical to it. New to other parts of the world this culture has been a quintessential part of Finnish life for as long as any one can remember. A reason for this is also most likely the excellent work-life balance in Finland. Many Finns have their own cottages, which they use for extended periods during the summer and winter months. Often these cottages are located on small islands only reachable by boat in the summer and snowmobile or skis in winter.

The Finnish summer cottage culture is rooted in a deep connection to nature, a slower pace of life, and an appreciation for the simple pleasures. Cottages are often passed down through generations of families, creating a deep sense of tradition and family history. Many Finns also see their summer cottages as a place to reconnect with themselves, their families, and nature.

In recent years, the Finnish summer cottage culture has become increasingly popular with foreign visitors, who are drawn to the country’s unspoiled wilderness and the simplicity of the cottage lifestyle. Some Finnish cottages are now available to rent to tourists, providing a unique opportunity to experience the country’s culture and way of life! We highly recommend renting out a cottage for a weekend to experience Finland in its truest form.

13. Cloudberry

Finland is home to a plethora of different berries. Blueberries, raspberries, wild strawberries and many more. But have you ever heard of the elusive cloudberry? A unique and delicious Finnish berry, the cloudberry is a golden-colored berry that grows wild in the country’s central and northern regions. It’s used in a variety of dishes, from jams to desserts.

Cloudberries are a delicacy in Finland, and many Finnish families will go berry-picking in the wilderness to gather them. The berries are typically found in swampy or boggy areas, making them difficult to harvest, but their unique flavor and nutritional value make the effort worth it!

In addition to their delicious taste, cloudberries are also known for their health benefits. They are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can support the immune system, improve digestion, and support overall health.

Cloudberries are also an important part of Finnish folklore and culture. They have been used in traditional Finnish medicine for centuries and are believed to have healing properties. In addition, the berries are featured in many Finnish folk tales and are often associated with the mystical creatures that inhabit the country’s forests and wilderness areas.

A real must-try berry in other words!

14. Rye Bread

Finnish rye bread, known as “ruisleipä” in Finnish, is a staple of Finnish cuisine and a beloved part of Finnish culture. The bread is made with a combination of rye flour, water, salt, and a sourdough starter, which gives it its distinctive tangy flavor and dense texture.

Finnish rye bread has a long history, dating back to the time when rye was the primary grain grown in Finland. The bread was a staple food for farmers and villagers and was typically baked in large batches in communal ovens. Today, Finnish rye bread is still a popular food in Finland and can be found in bakeries, supermarkets, and homes throughout the country.

The flavor and texture of Finnish rye bread are unique, with a dense and chewy texture that is perfect for pairing with a range of savory and sweet toppings. It is often served with butter, cheese, or cured meats, but it can also be enjoyed with sweet toppings like honey or jam.

In addition to its delicious taste, Finnish rye bread is also a healthy choice. Rye is a whole grain that is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a great choice for anyone looking to improve their overall health and well-being.

15. National Parks

Finland is home to over 40 national parks, each with its own unique features and attractions. From the rugged beauty of Lapland’s Urho Kekkonen National Park to the stunning archipelago of the Gulf of Finland National Park, there’s no shortage of natural wonders to explore!

Some of the most popular national parks in Finland include Urho Kekkonen National Park, which is located in the heart of Finnish Lapland and features pristine forests, crystal-clear lakes, and stunning mountain vistas. Another popular destination is Nuuksio National Park, which is located just a short drive from Helsinki and offers visitors a chance to explore the tranquil forests and lakes of southern Finland.

Other notable national parks in Finland include Koli National Park, which is located in eastern Finland and features breathtaking views of Lake Pielinen and the surrounding landscape, and Oulanka National Park, which is located in northern Finland and is famous for its rugged rapids and cascading waterfalls.

Each national park in Finland offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the country’s natural beauty and wildlife. Visitors can hike through pristine forests, paddle along tranquil lakes, and observe a wide range of animals, from reindeer and elk to brown bears and lynx.

In addition to their natural beauty, Finnish national parks are also an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. Many of the parks are home to traditional Finnish villages and settlements, and visitors can learn about the customs and traditions of Finland’s indigenous Sami people.