If you’re moving to Finland, it won’t be long before your first experience of the Finnish winter. There’s no need to be apprehensive about those long winter nights. Finnish winter is a wonderful time in its own way, and enjoying it is mostly just a matter of having the right attitude and the right clothes. By following these simple tips on how to handle winter in Finland, you can learn to enjoy this special time of year.
Welcome the Winter
Winter in Finland isn’t quite like anywhere else. Temperatures are colder than in most other places, and the nights are longer too. Daylight lasts only about 6 hours in December in southern Finland, and the north of the country experiences the “Kaamos” or Polar Night, a period in which the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at all. On the plus side, during the long and dark winter nights in Finland, you may have the unique opportunity to experience the natural wonder of the Northern Lights.
When you’re dealing with a winter like Finland’s, the best way to handle it is simply to embrace it. There’s a lot to love about the winter in Finland, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you don’t try to fight it. Winter can be a great time to slow down a little, wrap yourself up in a warm blanket, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
One great way to welcome the winter is to make a plan – a series of books you want to read, a project you want to complete, a new language you’ve always wanted to learn. Winter is typically a time where people spend a lot of extra time at home, so it’s a great idea to have something to keep you occupied. With the right plan, you may even find yourself looking forward to the winter months.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the winter properly when you’re warm and dry. It might be cold and wet outside, but there’s no reason for you to be the same way!
When you’re inside a building, you won’t have to worry. Finns have been dealing with harsh winters for many centuries, and they know how to build for warmth. Every building in Finland should be warm and comfortable all winter long.
So, you only have to worry about staying warm when you go outside. As the Finnish saying has it, “There’s no bad weather, only inadequate clothing.” So, what makes clothing adequate for any weather? There are two main factors: dressing in layers and wearing the right fabrics for the job.
Rather than relying on a single heavy winter coat, it’s a much better idea to dress in layers of lighter items. The separate layers are better at retaining heat, and you can add or remove layers as needed.
As for fabrics, Finns avoid wearing cotton, because it tends to retain moisture. You don’t want to be wet when it’s cold outside. Wool, on the other hand, can keep you warm even when it gets wet, so it’s an excellent choice for winter clothing. In general, anything made of wool or especially merino wool is a good idea, as is cashmere, silk, yak, and alpaca. Avoid polyester or acrylics.
Along with a good coat, you also need a sweater or two, a hat, a pair of gloves, and wool socks. For especially cold days, it can be a good idea to have a second, thinner pair of gloves to go under your main pair.
Staying warm is just the start of it. The real goal is to get cozy. Coziness in winter is a delightful feeling, peaceful and quiet and meditative all at once. Anything that gives you that cozy feeling is a good idea: a blazing soapstone fireplace, a hearty bowl of warm soup, or a steaming mug of hot coffee.
Finns are some of the world’s most dedicated coffee drinkers, and coffee is typically served at all kinds of gatherings in Finland. Not only is it warm and soothing, but it also helps you stay awake when you need to – even when the sun sets much earlier than you’re used to. Curling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book is especially pleasant when it’s cold and dark outside.
As for soup, Finland has many great options to choose from, including creamy salmon lohikeitto, split pea hernekeitto, and chunky vegetable kesäkeitto. Any of these hot soups will give you that wonderful cozy feeling.
Another great idea is to visit the sauna on a regular basis. Many apartments have one, but there are plenty of public saunas available if your apartment doesn’t. Some Finns enjoy diving into cold water or snow immediately after the sauna, but you don’t have to feel obligated to try this out yourself!
Get Enough Light
Many people find that they have to take a little extra care of their mental health during the winter months, especially so if they find the lack of sunlight challenging.
There’s more than one way to address the lack of daylight. You can buy a daylight alarm clock, which will wake you up with soft light instead of a harsh sound every morning, as if you were waking up naturally with the sunrise. You can buy lightbulbs or lighting systems that simulate natural light. You can also make a point of getting as much daylight as possible by going for a walk every day while the sun is still up.
It's also a good idea to take a daily Vitamin D supplement during the winter months, to replace the Vitamin D you would normally get from longer hours of daylight.
Get Out and See People
Winter may be a good time for staying at home a little more, but that doesn’t mean you should let yourself become socially isolated. Host the occasional social gathering at your house or make a plan to go out to a restaurant with friends on a regular basis.
Another option is to take up a hobby that will get you out of the house and around other people. In fact, hobbies are one of the most common ways of making friends in Finland. Your hobby can be anything that appeals to you, but sports are a popular choice – especially ice hockey. There are almost endless options for winter activities in Finland, including skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and many others. Getting out and having some fun and good conversation with friends will do wonders for your wellbeing.
The more winters you spend in Finland, the better you’ll get at surviving and even loving the Finnish winter. Once you know you can handle it, you’ll find it easier to approach the season with the right attitude. Embrace the Finnish winter and you’ll find a lot to love about it – from the extra time for personal hobbies to the long, quiet nights.
Topics: Work life in the Nordics