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The Lighter Side of Finland is celebrating its 22nd anniversary. The idea was to examine the Finnish culture and society through humor and facts. We believe this idea was a success, so every few years the book has been updated and revised to keep up with an ever-changing Finland.

Finland is celebrating its 100-year anniversary of becoming an independent nation. It was a long, difficult struggle to achieve freedom, but it finally came in 1917. During the years that followed, the new country faced problems, threats and downfalls. It also observed times of development, progress and prosperity. And now, Finland has been acclaimed by researchers and journalists as an excellent place to live, work, do business and raise a family.

We hope the 6th edition of The Lighter Side of Finland will bring you laughter, entertainment and enlightenment.

Published: Klaava Media on
ISBN: 9789527074794
List price: $8.90
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The Lighter Side of Finland (6th Edition) - Russell Snyder

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The Lighter Side



The world’s Funniest Finnish guidebook: culture, people, places and etiquette

Russell Snyder

The Lighter Side of Finland

The world’s funniest Finnish guidebook: culture, people, places and etiquette

ISBN 978-952-7074-79-4 (EPUB)

Copyright Russell Snyder and Klaava Media / Andalys Ltd

February 2017, 6th edition

Publisher: Klaava Media / Andalys Ltd

Table of Contents


Finland Short and Sweet

That’s History

An Economy Report

Second place is not always bad

In the money

Get your high quality stuff here

Design it

Raising funds

Other signs of Finnish success

Dealing with Chemicals

The Slush Movement

Getting Down to Business

Quiet, efficient and too well organized

No surprises, please

Keep it short

Meet the Sinisalos

Suburban life

The mind and body

Country escape

Money Grows on Trees

The family trees

Forest tech

Fun in the forest

Everyman’s Right

Everyone may

You may not

Being Good Sports

The glory days

On thick or thin ice

On the Go in Summer

On the Go in Winter

Sauna Disciples

Two millennia of steam

Sauna fundamentals

Helsinki Chronicles


See the city

The Bike Ride

Karelian Seurasaari

Getting Around

Public transport’s many uses

Beyond Helsinki







Life on an Island

See and do it

The island of stamps

Way Up North

It is the season

Lapland destinations

The sensible Samí

A Break

Going Fishing

Food for Thought

Traditional Finnish calories

Fish on your dish

Daily bread

The land of milk and mushrooms


Alko is born

Nothing beats beer

The Wordsmiths

The big names

Contemporary words

A modern Kalevala

What's the Kalevala?

The Finnish Way of Learning

Happy Holidays

New Year’s Eve (Uudenvuodenaatto)

Epiphany (Loppiainen)

Runeberg Day (Runebergin päivä)

Shrove Sunday and Shrove Tuesday (Laskiainen)

Kalevala Day (Kalevalapäivä)

Easter (Pääsiäinen)

May Day (Vappu)

Midsummer (Juhannus)

Independence Day (Itsenäisyyspäivä)

Christmas (Joulu)

Boxing Day (Tapaninpäivä)

Name Day (Nimipäivä)

The Longest Day

A Modern Midsummer

Midsummers elsewhere

Pleasant memories

Playing Politics

The President and the Prime Minister

Who’s to judge?

Meanwhile, back at the EU

Music to Finnish Ears

Classical Finland

Pop music

Time for a Festival

Finland’s contribution to world culture

Sailing West

Out for a Drive

Cold reality

Seasonal driving

Driving in the light season

Finland's Heritage

The Northern Superstar

Santa's support

Learn Finnish in a Few Minutes

The Author

Related Books


During my 30-plus years in Finland, I've become rich in experiences (though not in money). Fortunately, most have been more or less on the positive side. Of course, there have been a few un­pleasant ones, and some that I'm still unsure about. But that's to be expected anywhere.

Why did you come here? I've been asked hundreds of thousands of times ... or so it seems. In truth, I didn't have any special reason for coming to Finland. I didn't come for a girl­friend, not to discover my roots, not to do research on Finno-Ugric languages, and not for a special professional oppor­tunity. I was just curious. Plus, I loved the Finnish countryside, appre­ciated the cities and towns, and most important, liked the Finnish people.

Initially, I had only planned to stay one year. But there was always something I wanted to do, someplace I wanted see, and some­one I wanted to meet. Then one day, I woke up to find that many years had passed. I had traveled around the country, studied, went to parties, had several careers, got married, had kids, got divorced, and learned to tolerate salmiakki candies. In other words, I was stuck here ... but there are far worse places to be stuck.

When abroad I tend to brag about the spectacular Finnish nature, the startups, the cleantech know-how, the excellent education system, the emphasis on good design, as well as the friendly mosquitoes in summer and the deadly cold in winter...

All in all, I'm glad I moved to Finland. Of course, I might say the same thing about Sweden or Costa Rica if I had decided to move there. But let's not speculate.

Information for this book was obtained by doing tradition research and more importantly, by having lively discussions in pubs, by listening to gossip in saunas, and by hearing small talk at receptions. These texts are based on facts ... and some of them are even true.

Finally, I'd like to mention that Finland has been recog­nized by the media as one of the best countries to live in. More­over, several international organizations have found Finns to be among the happiest people on earth.  So, in spite of how they look when fighting crowds on the morning metro, walking through a blinding snowstorm, paying high prices at the supermarket, waiting for service at a restaurant, or complaining about a new tax ... they are really smiling to themselves thinking: living in Finland is like winning the Lottery!

Finland Short and Sweet


Finland is 1,160 km long, 540 km wide and has a total area of 338,135 square kilometers, making it one of the largest countries in Europe. There are 5.4 million resi­dents, so there is plenty of room. However, it seems most of the people prefer to live very close each other, and then not say Hello.

There are approximately 198,439 lakes, but I'm not sure how many ponds are counted as lakes. After a rain, some of the puddles resemble lakes. Around 70% of the country is forested, so why are Christmas trees so expensive? 10% is covered with water, although after the ice melts in spring that figure might be more like 50%.

Some 100,000 islands lie off the coast of Finland (Europe's largest archipelago), each one a real paradise, except for the poisonous snakes, the disease carrying ticks and the man-eating flies.

Type of State

Republic with democratic parliamentary elections every four years. The MPs’ speeches may be boring to listen to while in session – however, they make up for it by getting into interesting and entertaining scandals which Finns love to read about in the evening papers.

Head of State

The President. Elected for a term of six years. The president's power has been greatly reduced in the last years. How­ever, he still gets VIP treatment wherever he goes ... no waiting in queues, polite reporters, and service with a smile. The downside is the sore knuckles from all the handshaking.


Coalition. The party with the largest share of votes gets the prime minister position. The other minister posi­tions are given out by the percentage of votes and the best argument. 


Finnish 93%, Swedish 6%, Sami speakers 1720, and a large number of people who don't speak to strangers.


The official religions are Lutheran (over 70%), Orthodox (slightly over 1%). Various other Christian religions, as well as Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and every other major religion are represented here. Furthermore, Atheists and Agnos­tics make up significant numbers in Finland. Then again, 10% believe the world owes them a living, 50 % believe their neighbors are cheating on income tax, and 55% believe the Finnish makkara (sausage) is a blessing.


Rather unpredictable, so you should be prepared for sun, rain, hail, sleet, fog, snow, heavy winds, and mini tornados ... and that's just in the summer.


World class and always at the top in global comparisons. Although, I know some PhDs who lack common sense. There are over 1000 public libraries in Finland, how­ever, it would be nice if they were open when people were not working.


The crime rate is low and Finland is considered a safe country for both men and women. So don't take the yellow press too seriously, or you'd be afraid to go outdoors.


This custom is not expected in Finland, but for truly outstanding service, you may want