It may seem a little odd with all the non-Brazilian posts lately, but as Christmas is drawing near, I’m mentally preparing for a reverse culture-shock in Europe. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but I look forward to getting there just in time for the holidays! But before that, like today, there are other celebrations. It’s Finland’s 97th Independence Day! And why is Finland important to me? Well, for starters, I recognise myself as Finnish, even though most people look at me like dogs do when you make funny sounds when, I say I’m Finnish. I have a Finnish passport (btw, one of the best passports to hold in the world!), most of my family/relatives live there and I speak… wait for it… Swedish. Ask me why I don’t speak Finnish (that well). Why, glad you asked! Swedish is my mother tongue, and it also happens to be an official language in Finland. I went to 100% Swedish speaking schools there, my parents’ native language is Swedish, and I’ve always belonged to some kind of minority in my life, so my Swedish won’t be going away any time soon. By the way, never confuse a Finn for a Swede, it’s just rude 🙂
Finland, although not quite as big as Brazil, is bigger than most other countries in Europe. But the concentration of people there is very low, with the majority of people in and around the handful of the biggest cities (population 1.1M in urban Helsinki). But let this not fool you! Helsinki and Finland can be really quite interesting if you know the history. Finland used to be part of Sweden, until it was part of Russia, and now it’s an independent Finland since December 7, 1917. So, you encounter a lot of flamboyant buildings from those eras, as well as churches and commemorative statues. By the coast of Helsinki, you also have the “Sveaborg” (“Suomenlinna” in Finnish), a fortress on an island, which is mighty impressive (and free to go to!). Other than that, Helsinki gives you easy access to a lot of places in neighbouring countries, like Sweden, Russia and Estonia.
Before I Fin(n)ish this post, I might add that Santa Claus actually has village in the north of Finland, called Rovaniemi. I’ve never been there but it’s a popular destination. The Laplands (it stretches across Norway, Sweden and Finland, and a bit into Russia), where Rovaniemi is located, is by the polar circle, which means that it can get pretty cold! But the snow sh0uld be fantastic there, together with the auroras, reindeers and ice castles! Lots of Dutch people go there not only once, but multiple times. Oh, and they have their own culture and language(s) there, way different from the rest of Finland.
Disculpa, meus leitores brasileiros, agora mesmo não tenho tempo para traduzir esse texto 🙂 See you! Até!
Finland’s national anthem in both Finnish and Swedish (with English lyrics):