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Strange Finnish Customs

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Shoes: In Finland you leave your shoes at the door when you enter a person’s home – in America if you take your shoes off everyone hopes they will not smell your feet.

Baby Carriages: In Finland, men are commonly seen pushing baby carriages along the street – in America the baby carriages are mostly only used in the malls and in the stores, and the women are doing the pushing.

Discos: In Finland it is cool to go to a place called a “disco” – but in America if there was a place called a “disco” you wouldn’t want to be caught dead there.

Pedestrians:

  • In Finland the sidewalks and trails will take you everywhere. You can walk from Helsinki to Lapland and always be on a sidewalk. In America no one uses walking as transporation; it is only done as exercise.
  • In Finland NO ONE crosses the street unless the light is green, even if there are no cars for miles. In America, you cross the street when you arrive there (whether the light is green or not) and you run in order to avoid the cars.
  • In America the cars will swerve to try to hit the pedestrians. In Finland the cars come to a complete stop for the pedestrian.

The City Busses: In Finland, if you are riding on a train or a city bus that is completely full of people, there is always complete silence because Finns are comfortable with silence. However, if you are in the USA riding on a bus or train there will always be some talking not depending on the number of people riding. Silence is awkward in the United States.

The Finnish Toy: In Finland if you ask for a person’s phone number, it will always begin with 940 because this is the prefix for all the mobile telephones in the country and almost all Finns have a mobile telephone. Some of these phones are really cool because they play a musical tune when someone calls that phone.

The Fork and the Knife: In Finland the knife is used to push the food onto the fork while eating. Therefore, the knife is ALWAYS in one hand the fork is in the other hand during the course of a meal. In America the knife only cuts the food.

The Briefcase: Among Finnish engineering students in the universities, the briefcase is the proper way to carry class materials to school. At American universities the students always use backpacks.

The Salad Bar: In America if you want a salad it will ALWAYS have lettuce in it. But in Finland there are salads that can have only carrots, or beets, or cabbage, or cauliflower, or whatever.

From the Internet, 1997.

June Pelo


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