“Die spinnen, die Finnen” (“They’re crazy, the Finns”) is the title of a book by Dieter Hermann Schmitz, which is certainly meant with a certain wink. At least a certain craziness of the Suomi inhabitants cannot be completely dismissed out of hand. Here, people simply don’t take themselves too seriously and are also up for a bit of fun – I think that’s great. In this article I have collected for you a few of the funniest Finland customs and curious contests.
WIFE CARRYING – SISU IS CALLED FOR HERE
When it comes to a little crazy Finland customs, there’s one you can’t miss. Wife carrying, sometimes referred to as wife carrying, is a discipline in which strength and technique play equally important roles. You guessed it: since 1992, Finland has had a world championship in women’s carrying, held in Sonkajärvi.
Not only married couples are allowed to participate, but there are certain requirements, such as age and minimum weight. The races run over a 253.5-meter course, with various obstacles such as a water ditch to overcome. A championship in this sport is also held in Germany.
RUBBER BOOT LONG THROW – ONCE UNLEASHED BY SEAFARERS
A truly unusual Finnish custom is the rubber boot throw. If we can believe Wikipedia, the tradition goes back to the 19th century, when Finnish sailors invented the throwing game. The fact is, since 1975 you can throw rubber boots as an official team sport in Finland. The first world championship was hosted in 1992. Since then, there have been annual tournaments.
Would you have thought that the Rubber Boot Throwing World Championships have even taken place in Berlin and that there are seven clubs in Germany that officially offer this sport?
KALSARIKÄNNIT – A FINNISH PHENOMENON
In the first place to mention here, of course, kalsarikännit. This quite bizarre custom spread already a few years ago in the form of various pictures in the social networks. But what is actually behind it? “Getting drunk alone at home in your underpants” is the somewhat awkward-sounding German translation of the word Kalsarikännit. But hey, after all, not everyone can be as cool as the Finns and have their own expression for such a custom!
DRINKING BEER IN THE SAUNA – QUITE NORMAL IN FINLAND
Can you imagine sitting in the sauna with a cold beer and sipping the can every now and then while you sweat? This is quite a common sight in Finnish private saunas. Of course, like practically everything in a real Finnish sauna, it is not compulsory and not everyone does it, but for many a good “saunakalja” is simply part of the experience. Depending on how long saunas are taken, one or two more can also be added…
AIR-GUITAR-VM – NOT ONLY FOR METALHEADS
Finland is considered to be the country with the most metal bands in relation to the total population. Is it really surprising that one day the Finns launched the World Air Guitar Championship? No. Since 1996, the northern Finnish city of Oulu has hosted the Air Guitar World Championship every year.
Of course, not only metalheads are allowed to participate here, but everyone who feels like it and is not too shy to deliver a funny performance on stage. Since 2004, German friends of the air guitar have joined together in the German Air Guitar Federation.
Have you ever heard of “Swamp Soccer”? Neither did I until just now. But it is in fact the official international name for what the Finns simply call swamp soccer. Since 2000 Finland has hosted hosted World Championships, attracting up to 30,000 spectators and participants from all over the world.
Basically, swamp soccer, also still called mud soccer or bog soccer, runs very similarly to “normal” soccer. Two teams, but consisting of only six players per team, compete against each other with the goal of scoring as many goals as possible than the opponent. The increased difficulty is that the playing field is not a freshly mowed lawn, but a muddy quagmire. What a delicious pleasure for the audience!
Text: René Schwarz
About the Author:
René Schwarz is half Finnish and grew up bilingual. The self-employed copywriter and author travels regularly in his second home country and loves to share his passion for Suomi with others. Since the beginning of 2016, he has also been doing this on his blog FinnTouch, where you can expect, among other things, numerous Finland travel tips, interviews with Finnish artists and also very personal stories. Check us out at www.finntouch.de!