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Archive for the 'Living in Finland' Category

An Overview of the Finnish Culture

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Are you thinking of visiting Finland? Or have you heard about Finland in the news recently and wanted to know more about the country? Whatever brought you here, know that we’ll do our best to satisfy your curiosity about the Finnish culture!

Geographically, Finland lies between Scandinavia and Russia. While the country has been culturally influenced by its neighbors on either side, it has a very distinctive cultural identity of its own with many interesting quirks and unique traditions.

Read on to learn more about Finland’s culture and traditions, from Finnish values and attitudes to popular sports, foods, and holidays. Trust us, there’s much more to Finnish culture than the sauna!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Finnish Character and Values
  2. Religion in Finland
  3. Sports and Recreation
  4. Finnish Art and Entertainment
  5. Finnish Food and Drink
  6. Holidays and Celebrations
  7. Lopuksi

1. Finnish Character and Values

To really understand the culture of Finland, you must first begin to understand the core values of Finnish society. Here are a few key points on the character and values of Finns!

A- Finnish Stereotype vs. The Reality

Finns have a reputation for being quiet and reserved, or even taciturn and unapproachable. Finns themselves may perpetuate this stereotype by telling self-deprecating jokes about their social awkwardness—a good example of this is the popular comic Finnish Nightmares created by the artist Karoliina Korhonen.

But is Finland really a country full of shy and withdrawn introverts? While there’s probably a grain of truth in every stereotype—in general, Finns do value their personal space and prefer meaningful conversations over idle chit chat—you’ll find that once you get to know them, Finnish people are usually very warm and open. Many have a charmingly dry sense of humor, and very talkative, highly extroverted Finns do exist!

A Smiling Little Girl Hides Under Her Hat.

A smiling little girl hides under her hat.

B- Finnish Core Values 

The fairly liberal Finnish culture values freedom of speech, individualism, and tolerance. Finns believe in fairness and equal opportunities, especially when it comes to gender and women’s rights. Recently, Finland has attracted a lot of attention internationally for being led by an all-female coalition government.

Finns generally trust the authorities and they tend to be very honest and law-abiding. This is for a good reason: corruption is very low in Finland. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Finland as the third most transparent country in the world after Denmark and New Zealand.

In Finland, everyone has access to a free, world-class education, and the country was ranked the world’s most literate nation in 2016. Reading for pleasure as well as keeping up with the news are important to many Finns.

Finally, Finnish people have a very close connection to nature, and spending time outdoors is an essential aspect of living a high-quality life. There are forty national parks across the country, and conservation and environmental issues are taken seriously in Finland.

Sunlight Seeps Through Trees in a Forest

Sunlight seeps through trees in a forest.

C- Subcultures in Finland

Of course, Finland is not completely homogenous culturally. Notable subcultures with their own distinct characteristics and traditions include the Swedish-speaking Finns (suomenruotsalaiset), the Sami (saamelaiset), and the Finnish Gypsies (Suomen romanit). Head over to Wikipedia to learn more about these subcultures.

2. Religion in Finland

Before Christianity spread to Finland in the eleventh century, the country’s primary religion was Finnish paganism, which involved things like song magic and the worship of a variety of deities, including Ukko, the god of thunder.

The majority of Finnish people today consider themselves Christian, with roughly 69% of the population belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The Orthodox Church of Finland is the second-largest religious community in the country (a little over 1% of the population are members), while around 29% of Finns don’t consider themselves affiliated with any particular religion.

According to the Finnish Constitution, the Church and the State are separate entities, and Finns are free to practice any religion (or none). However, the Lutheran Church and the Finnish Orthodox Church enjoy certain privileges in the country, including the right to tax their members.

Typically, Finnish people are fairly secular in their views and religion does not play a major role in everyday life. Most Lutherans attend church only on special occasions (such as for weddings and funerals) or on major Christian holidays (such as Easter and Christmas).

A Couple on Their Wedding Day

A couple on their wedding day.

3. Sports and Recreation

Every culture has its favorite sports and preferred recreational activities. So how do sports and recreation come into play in Finnish culture and traditions?

A- Popular Sports in Finland

Both participating in and watching sports are popular pastimes in Finland. The national game is called pesäpallo (“Finnish baseball”), and the sports that get the most media coverage include jääkiekko (“ice hockey”), jalkapallo (“football”), and Formula 1 (“Formula One”).

Professionally, Finns have often excelled in winter sports, which isn’t surprising considering the long winters in Finland! Matti Nykänen was arguably the best ski jumper to have ever competed, and Finland’s national ice hockey team is among the best in the world, having won their third world championship title in 2019.

Finland is also the home of some very unique sports, including eukonkanto (“wife-carrying”) which originated in Sonkajärvi, and suopotkupallo (“swamp football”) which was initially an exercise activity for athletes and soldiers.  


B- Recreational Activities

Finns enjoy many outdoor activities in their free time. Some typical hobbies include cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, Nordic walking, camping, and foraging for wild berries and mushrooms. Wild swimming is very popular in summer, but the most enthusiastic wild swimmers continue their hobby even during the coldest months of the year by creating a hole in the ice and going for a dip in the icy water!

Many Finns also enjoy relaxing activities, such as reading, cooking, playing music, and various arts and crafts from photography to knitting.

Wild Swimming in Winter

Wild swimming in winter.


4. Finnish Art and Entertainment

As can be said of many cultures, the culture in Finland is largely represented through its variety of artwork and entertainment mediums.

The most representative Finnish visual art style is known as Romantic Nationalism. The Kalevala-inspired paintings of Akseli Gallen-Kallela are among the most famous examples of this style. Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen) is possibly the most recognized Finnish artist internationally—his once-controversial drawings of gay men are today seen as symbols of open-mindedness and tolerance.

There is a distinct design tradition in Finland. Some of the most notable names in Finnish design include Alvar Aalto, Marimekko, and Iittala. Finnish architecture is particularly known for its extensive use of wood as material.

The most famous writers from the early days of Finnish literature include the novelist Aleksis Kivi and the poet Eino Leino. After Finland gained independence, modernist writers such as Mika Waltari and Frans Eemil Sillanpää (the only Finnish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature to date) rose to fame, while the Second World War inspired the best-selling novel Tuntematon sotilas (“The Unknown Soldier”) by Väinö Linna. Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories are among the most beloved Finnish children’s books of all time.

While Hollywood films are very popular in Finland, Finnish cinema is alive and well. Known for his extremely minimalistic style, Aki Kaurismäki is the best-known Finnish film director outside of his home country. His award-winning works include The Man Without a Past and Le Havre.

Many different styles of home-grown music are popular in Finland, including folk, rock, hip hop, dance, and pop. Internationally, Finland is perhaps best known for the classical composer Jean Sibelius as well as the prominent heavy metal music scene. The gothic rock band HIM is among the most commercially successful Finnish groups of all time and the first one to have received a gold record in the States.

Video and mobile games are considered a valued part of Finnish culture, with over twenty educational institutions providing instruction in game design. Some of the most acclaimed games developed by Finnish studios include the hit titles Max Payne, Angry Birds, and Clash of Clans.

Sculpture of Composer Jean Sibelius

Sculpture of composer Jean Sibelius.

5. Finnish Food and Drink

A flavorful window into Finnish culture, food here is hearty, simple, and prepared with fresh ingredients. Meat, fish, dairy products, potatoes, and whole grains feature heavily in the Finnish diet. Wild mushrooms and berries are also commonly used when in season.

A- Top 5 Finnish Dishes

 Are you curious about traditional Finnish food? Here are five delicious dishes to try:

  1. Lohikeitto (“Salmon soup”)

    This comforting soup with potatoes, cream, and fresh dill is one of the best ways to enjoy salmon.

  1. Poronkäristys (“Sautéed reindeer”)

    Prepared with thinly sliced reindeer meat seasoned with salt and pepper, this is a must-try traditional dish from the Finnish Lapland.

  1. Karjalanpaisti (“Karelian hot pot”)

    Another dish proving that simple doesn’t mean bland! Meat, onion, and root vegetables are flavored with peppercorns and cooked for several hours in the oven.

  1. Kaalilaatikko (“Cabbage casserole”)

    To prepare this dish, a mixture of cabbage, meat, and rice (or barley) is baked in the oven until perfectly tender.

  1. Kalakukko (“Fish pie”)

    This traditional Savonian dish is prepared by baking fish (usually vendace or European perch) and pork wrapped inside a thin rye crust.

Finnish Salmon Soup

Finnish salmon soup.

B- Popular Products in Finland

If you get a chance to visit Finland, you’ll very quickly notice that certain food products are ubiquitous. The undisputed number-one bread in Finland is rye bread, Finnish cinnamon rolls can be found in almost every café, and a type of salty liquorice known as salmiakki (“salmiac liquorice”) is by far the most popular kind of sweet in the country.

What about drinks? Finns drink *a lot* of coffee—in fact, Finnish people consume more coffee per capita than any other nation! In addition to the strong Finnish coffee culture, Finns also have a reputation for being heavy drinkers. The level of alcohol consumption here is not that far off from the European average, but instead of having a drink with their meals, Finns tend to do most of their drinking on the weekends! Spirits, beer, and cider are some of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the country.

A Cup of Coffee

A cup of coffee.


6. Holidays and Celebrations 

There are several traditions of Finland directly associated with the major holidays and celebrations. Take a look!

A- Finnish Holidays

Both Christian and non-Christian holidays are celebrated in Finland. These are among the most important holidays in Finland:

  1. Vappu (“May Day”) – May 1

    Vappu has its origins in ancient spring festivities, but today it’s celebrated most prominently by students. They gather in parks for a picnic after a night of hard partying, donning colorful overalls and a white graduation cap known as ylioppilaslakki. Balloons, serpentine throws, party-poppers, and sweet treats are also a part of the festivities.

  1. Juhannus (“Midsummer”) – June

    Juhannus takes place at the height of summer when the nights are at their lightest in Finland. Celebrations typically involve spending time with family and friends at a summer cottage, a sauna, barbecues, and bonfires. Midsummer open-air music festivals are also popular.

  1. Itsenäisyyspäivä (“Independence Day”) – December 6

    Traditional Finnish Independence Day activities include lighting candles at home, student torch cavalcades, and watching the Presidential Independence Day reception on TV.

  1. Joulu (“Christmas”) – December 24

    Christmas is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year in Finland. The main Finnish Christmas celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. The sauna, Christmas dinner, and presents are essential parts of the celebration. Joulupukki (“Santa Claus”) himself may visit families with young children in person.

Santa Claus

Joulupukki (“Santa Claus”)

B- Other Celebrations

Liputuspäivä (“flag day”)

In Finland, there are also a number of flag days. Some are official flag days during which, according to law, the national flag must be flown from public buildings. An example of such a day is äitienpäivä (“Mother’s Day”). There are also a number of other days during which flying the flag is recommended, such as on March 19 (which is the birthday of the author Minna Canth) and tasa-arvon päivä (“Day of Equality”). 

Nimipäivä (“name day”)

Finns celebrate not only birthdays, but also name days. Each day of the year in the Finnish calendar (except New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and February 29) has a name, or several names, assigned to it. A typical way to celebrate one’s name day is with a cup of coffee and a sweet treat.


7. Lopuksi

In this guide, you’ve learned a lot about the Finnish culture. We’ve discussed Finnish characteristics, popular sports and hobbies, arts, and food. Did anything here surprise you or make you want to know more?

Even this guide is only scratching the surface though—there is simply too much to discover about Finland and the Finnish people to fit it all onto one page! If you’re hungry for more, one of the best and most exciting ways to immerse yourself in Finnish culture is to learn the language.

Whether you already speak some Finnish or are thinking about making the leap, FinnishPod101 offers a lot of free resources that can help you conquer Finnish grammar and pick up new vocabulary fast. Our Finnish vocabulary lists, for example, come with handy recordings to make it easy for you to perfect your pronunciation.

We look forward to seeing you around!

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Telling Time in Finnish – Everything You Need to Know

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What’s your relationship with the clock like? Does it run your day from a morning alarm to a cut-off chime for bed, or are you more of a go-with-the-flow type, letting your mood and emotions decide how much you fall in line with time?

Understanding time in Finnish is an important part of your studies. As humans, our lives are filled with habits and schedules. From waking up and going to work or gym, to missing rush hour traffic on our way home, we’re always aware of time. We have routines around coffee breaks, meetings, soccer games and vacations. In fact, time can seem rather capricious – going slowly, going fast, sometimes against us, other times on our side – like a force that has a life of its own.

In science, time is often referred to as a fourth dimension and many physicists and philosophers think that if we understood the physics of the universe, we would see that time is an illusion. We sense an ‘arrow’ or direction of time because we have memories, but really time is just a construct that humans have created to help make sense of the world. 

On the other hand, poets through the ages have written impassioned thoughts about time, depicting it as both a relentless thief and an immensely precious resource, not to be wasted at any cost.

Well, poets and scientists may have their views, but in our everyday lives there’s the question of practicality, isn’t there? I mean, if you have plans and want things to happen your way, there’s a certain amount of conforming to the human rules of time that you can’t avoid. 

In ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the prince has a rose that he falls in love with, and he tenderly protects it with a windscreen and places it under a glass dome on his tiny planet.  I love this quote from the book:  “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”  If we truly love something, we spend time with it and not a second of that time could ever be seen as wasted. I feel that way about horses, my children, travel and learning languages

With that in mind, I’d like to take you on a journey into ‘time’ from a Finnish perspective. It’s fun, it’s informative and it’s a basic necessity if you’re learning the language – especially if you plan to travel. FinnishPod101 has all the vocab you need to fall in love with telling time in Finnish, and not a minute will be wasted.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Talking about Time in Finnish
  2. How to Tell the Time in Finnish
  3. Conclusion

1. Talking about Time in Finnish

As a traveler, your primary need for knowing how to read the hour in Finnish will be for transportation schedules: the bus, train, airplane, ferry, taxi… whatever you plan to use to get from A to B, it won’t wait for you! Fortunately, it’s really not complicated. You already have a firm grasp of time in English and you know you’ll need to reset your watch and phone to the local time. Great – that means you’ll have the correct time on your person. 

We’re so used to just looking at our phones for the time, that it’s easy to take this convenience for granted and forget some travel basics: in a foreign country, times won’t always be written digitally. If you see the time written in words, it’ll be the same challenge to you as hearing it spoken: you’ll need to be familiar with the language. 

You may be surprised at how often ‘time’ comes into conversation. Learning the Finnish terms for time will help you when you have to call a taxi, ask about opening and closing times of events and tourist attractions, restaurants and bars and even late-night food cafes.

My biggest annoyance when traveling is not being able to get coffee and amazingly, even at nice hotels this has happened more times than I care to think about. I’ll be up late planning something, writing my blog or chatting and when I go looking for coffee downstairs, I’m told the kitchen is closed or the ‘coffee lady’ has gone to sleep. Frustrating!

If you’re doing a homestay or at a youth hostel or backpackers, there will probably also be a limited timeframe for when you can grab dinner. Do you know how to ask when it’s time to eat in Finnish? I’ve learned that it’s vital to know how to make my queries clearly understood to accommodation staff and for me to clearly understand their answers. Perfect your ‘time in Finnish’ translations early on – you’ll thank me. 

At FinnishPod101, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of Finnish time words and phrases to get you going. 

Pedestrians in a city

1- Morning – aamu

Morning is the time when we wake up from our dreamworld, hopefully fully rested and restored; we brew the first delicious cup of coffee for the day and watch the sunrise as we prepare for another glorious twelve hours of life. No matter what happened the day before, a new morning is a chance to make everything right. 

I like these quiet hours for language practice, as my mind is clear and receptive to learning new things. I start by writing the Finnish time, date and word of the day on my whiteboard, then get back under the covers for an engrossing lesson.

Time in the morning is written as AM or A.M., which stands for ante meridiem – meaning ‘before midday’ in Latin.

Person typing with coffee next to them

2- Evening – ilta

Evening is the part of night when we’re still awake and doing things, winding down from the day. Whether you enjoy a tasty international dinner with friends, go out to see a show, or curl up on the couch with a Finnish snack and your favorite TV series, evening is a good time to forget your worries and do something that relaxes you. If you’re checking in with your Facebook friends, say hi to us, too!  

Evening is also an ideal time to catch up on your Finnish studies. The neighbourhood outside is likely to be quieter and time is yours, so grab a glass of wine or a delicious local tea, and see what’s new on your Mac App or Kindle

3- Daytime – päiväsaika

Daytime is defined as the period from early morning to early evening when the sun is visible outside. In other words: from sunrise to sunset.  Where you are in the world, as well as the season, will determine how many daylight hours you get. 

Interestingly, in locations north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle, in summertime the sun does not sink below the horizon within a 24-hour period, bringing the natural phenomenon of the midnight sun.  You could only experience this in the north, though, because there aren’t any permanent human settlements south of the Antarctic Circle.

4- Nighttime – yö

Nighttime is all the hours from sunset to sunrise and depending on where in the country you are, people may be partying all night, or asleep from full-dark. 

In the same northernmost and southernmost regions where you can experience a midnight sun, winter brings the opposite phenomenon: the polar night. Can you imagine a night that lasts for more than 24 hours? 

Girl sleeping; moon and starry sky

5- Hour – tunti

An hour is a unit of time made up of 60 minutes and is a variable measure of one-24th of a day – also defined by geeks as 3 600 atomic seconds. Of all the ‘time’ words we use on a daily basis, the hour is the most important, as time of day is typically expressed in terms of hours. 

One of the interesting methods of keeping time that people have come up with is the hourglass. Although the origins are unclear, there’s evidence pointing to the hourglass being invented around 1000 – 1100 AD and one of the ways we know this, is from hourglasses being depicted in very old murals. These days, with clocks and watches in every direction we look, they’re really only used symbolically to represent the passage of time. Still – a powerful reminder of our mortality and to seize the day. In his private journal, the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote: “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

An hourglass with falling sand

6- Minute – minuutti

Use this word when you want to say a more precise time and express minutes in Finnish. A minute is a unit of time equal to one sixtieth of an hour, or 60 seconds. A lot can happen in the next 60 seconds. For example, your blood will circulate three times through your entire vascular system and your heart will pump about 2.273 litres of blood. 

7- O’clock – kello

We use “o’clock” when there are no minutes and we’re saying the exact hour, as in “It’s two o’clock.”

The term “o’clock” is a contraction of the term “of the clock”. It comes from 15th-century references to medieval mechanical clocks. At the time, sundials were also common timekeepers. Therefore, to make clear one was referencing a clock’s time, they would say something like, “It is six of the clock” – now shortened to “six o’clock”.

We only use this term when talking about the 12 hour clock, though, not the 24 hour clock (more on that later!) The 12-hour clock can be traced back as far as Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Both an Egyptian sundial for daytime use and an Egyptian water clock for nighttime use were found in the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep I. Dating to c.1500 BC, these clocks divided their respective times of use into 12 hours each. The Romans also used a 12-hour clock. Daylight was divided into 12 equal hours and the night was divided into four watches. 

These days, the internet has made it very easy to know what the time is in any part of the world.  Speaking of which, why not add the Finnish time zone clock to your laptop?

Many different clocks

8- Half past – puoli

When the time is thirty minutes past the hour, in English we say “half past”. Just like the hour, the half-hour is universally used as an orientation point; some languages speak of 30 minutes before the hour (subtraction), whereas others speak of 30 minutes after the hour (addition). 

9- AM – aamulla

As mentioned earlier, AM is the abbreviation of the Latin ante meridiem and means before midday. Using ‘AM’ as a tag on your time simply tells people you’re speaking about a time in the morning. In some countries, morning is abbreviated to “AM” and you’ll see this on shop signs everywhere, announcing the opening hour. A typical shop sign might read something like this:

“Business hours are from 7AM to 6PM.” 

Woman in a shop, adjusting the shop sign

10- PM – iltapäivällä

PM is the abbreviation of the Latin post meridiem and means after midday. Along with ‘AM’, you’ll usually find ‘PM’ on store signs and businesses, indicating the closing hours. It’s advisable to learn the difference between the two, since some establishments might only have one or the other on the sign. For example, a night club sign might say: 

“Open from 10 PM until late.” 

11- What time is it now? – Paljonko kello on nyt?

Here’s a very handy question you should memorize, as you can use it in any situation where you don’t have your watch or phone on you. This could be on the beach, in a club, or if you’re stuck anywhere with a flat phone battery. It happens at home, so it can happen when you’re traveling! 

Woman on the phone, looking at her watch

12- One o’clock – kello yksi

One o’clock, or 1 PM, is the average lunch time for many people around the world – at least, we try to get a meal in at some point between midday and 2 PM.  In terms of duration, the nations vary: Brazililans reportedly take the longest lunch breaks, averaging 48 minutes, whereas Greece reports an average break of only 19 minutes. Historically, Greeks were known for their very leisurely lunch breaks, so it just goes to show how fast the world is changing. If you’re curious about what to expect in Finland, try asking our online community about lunch time in Finnish.

13- Two o’clock – kello kaksi

In his last days, Napoleon Bonaparte famously spoke of “Two o’clock in the morning courage” – meaning unprepared, spontaneous  courage. He was talking about soldiers who are brave enough to tumble out of bed in an instant, straight into action, without time to think or strategize. Do you think you have what it takes? I’m pretty sure all mothers know this feeling!

14- Three o’clock – kello kolme

3 AM can be perceived as the coldest time of day and is not an hour we want to wake up, but meteorologists will tell you that the coldest time is actually half an hour after sunrise. Even though the sun is peeking over the horizon, the solar radiation is still weaker than the earth’s infrared cooling to space.

Clock pointing to 3 o'clock

15- Four o’clock – kello neljä

Do you know anyone who purposely gets up at 4 o’clock in the morning? As crazy as it sounds, there is something to be said for rising at 4 AM while the rest of the world sleeps. If you live on a farm, it might even be normal for you. I know that whenever I’m staying in the countryside, rising early is a lot easier, because there’s a satisfying reason to do so: watching a sunrise from a rooftop, with uninterrupted views, can’t be beat! It’s also likely that you’ll be woken by a cock crowing, or other animals waking to graze in the fresh pre-dawn air. 

In the world of business, you’ll find a small group of ambitious individuals – many entrepreneurs – who swear by the 4 o’clock in the morning rise. I’m not sure I like that idea, but I’d wake up at 4 AM if it was summer and I had my car packed for a vacation!

16- Five o’clock – kello viisi

What better way to signal the transition between work and play than the clock hands striking 5 o’clock? It’s the hour most working people look forward to each day – at least, those who get to stop working at 5 PM.  Meanwhile, millions of retired folks are taking out the wine glasses, as 5 PM is widely accepted as an appropriate time to pour the first glass. I don’t know how traditional your families are, but for as long as I’ve been alive, my grandparents have counted down the milliseconds to five o’clock, and the hour is announced with glee.

A sunset

17- Six o’clock – kello kuusi

This is the time many working people and school kids wake up in the morning. In many parts of the world, 6 o’clock is also a good time to watch the sunrise, go for a run or hit the hiking trails. 

18- Seven o’clock – kello seitsemän

Health gurus will tell you that 7 o’clock in the morning is the best time to eat your first meal of the day, and 7 o’clock in the evening is the time you should eat your last meal. I’ve tried that and I agree, but it’s not always easy!

19- Eight o’clock – kello kahdeksan

8 o’clock in the morning is the time that most businesses open around the world, and the time most kids are in their first lesson at school – still full of energy and willing to participate. Interestingly, it’s also the time most babies are born in the world!  In the evening, 8 o’clock is many young children’s bedtime and the time for parents to watch the evening news. 

Smiling boy in school with his hand up

20- Nine o’clock – kello yhdeksän

It’s good to occasionally sleep late on a weekend and for me, this means waking up at 9 AM. If you’re traveling in Finland and staying at a hotel, planning to sleep late means politely requesting to not be woken up by room service.

21- Ten o’clock – kello kymmenen

10 o’clock in the morning is a popular time to conduct business meetings, and for first break time at schools. We’re usually wide awake and well into our day by then.  But what about the same hour at night? Modern people are often still awake and watching TV at 10 PM, but this isn’t exactly good for us. Experts say that the deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 PM and 2 AM, so we should already be sound asleep by ten o’clock. 

In advertising, have you ever noticed that the hands of the clock usually point to 10:10? Have a look next time you see a watch on a billboard or magazine. The reason? Aesthetics. Somehow, the human brain finds the symmetry pleasing. When the clock hands are at ten and two, they create a ‘smiley’ face and don’t cover any key details, like a logo, on the clock face. 

22- Eleven o’clock – kello yksitoista

When I see this time written in words, it makes me think of the hilarious Academy Award-winning very short film, “The Eleven O’Clock”, in which the delusional patient of a psychiatrist believes that he is actually the doctor. 

Then there’s the tradition of ‘elevenses’ – tea time at eleven o’clock in the morning. Strongly ingrained in British culture, elevenses is typically a serving of hot tea or coffee with scones or pastries on the side. It’s a great way to stave off hunger pangs before lunch time arrives. In fact, if you were a hobbit, ‘Elevenses’ would be your third meal of the day!

23- Twelve o’clock – kello kaksitoista

Twelve o’clock in the daytime is considered midday, when the sun is at its zenith and the temperature reaches its highest for that day; it’s written as 12 noon or 12 PM. In most parts of the world, though, this doesn’t happen at precisely 12 PM. ‘Solar noon’ is the time when the sun is actually at its highest point in the sky. The local or clock time of solar noon depends on the longitude and date. If it’s summertime, it’s advisable to stay in the shade during this hour – or at least wear good quality sunblock.

Midnight is the other ‘twelve o’clock’, of course. Midnight is written as 12 AM and is technically the first minute of the morning. On the 24-hour clock, midnight is written as 00:00. 

Sun at noon in a blue cloudy sky

2. How to Tell the Time in Finnish

Telling the time

Using a clock to read the time in Finland is going to be the same as in your own country, since you’re dealing with numbers and not words. You’ll know the time in your head and be able to say it in English, but will you be able to say it out loud in Finnish? 

The first step to saying the time in Finnish is knowing your numbers. How are you doing with that? If you can count to twelve in Finnish, you’re halfway there! We’ve already covered the phrases you’ll need to say the exact hour, as in “five o’clock”, as well as how to say “half past”. What remains is the more specific phrases to describe what the minute hand is doing.

In everyday speech, it’s common to say the minutes past or before the hour. Often we round the minutes off to the nearest five. 

Then, there’s the 24-hour clock. Also known as ‘military time’, the 24-hour clock is used in most countries and, as such, is useful to understand. You’ll find that even in places where the 12-hour clock is standard, certain people will speak in military time or use a combination of the two.  No doubt you’ve also noticed that in written time, the 24-hour clock is commonly used.  One of the most prominent places you’ll have seen this is on airport flight schedules.

Airport flight schedule

Knowing how to tell military time in Finnish is really not complicated if you know your numbers up to twenty-four. One advantage of using the 24-hour clock in Finnish, is there’s no chance of confusing AM and PM.

Once you know how to say the time, it will be pretty easy to also write the time in Finnish. You’re already learning what the different hours and minutes look and sound like, so give yourself some writing practice of the same. 

3. Conclusion

Now that you understand the vocabulary for telling time in Finnish, the best thing you can do to really lock it down is to just practice saying Finnish time daily. Start by replacing English with Finnish whenever you need to say the time; in fact, do this whenever you look at your watch. Say the time to yourself in Finnish and it will become a habit. When learning a new language, the phrases you use habitually are the ones your brain will acquire. It feels amazing when that turning point comes!

To help yourself gain confidence, why don’t you make use of our various apps, downloadable for iPhone and iPad, as well as Android? Choose what works best for you. In addition, we have so many free resources available to supplement your learning, that you simply can’t go wrong. Some of these are:

If you prefer watching your lessons on video, check out our YouTube channel – there are hundreds of videos to browse. For those of you with Roku, we also have a TV channel you can watch.

Well, it’s time for me to say goodbye and for you to practice saying the time in Finnish. Look at the nearest clock and try to say the exact time, down to the seconds. See you again soon at FinnishPod101!

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Essential Vocabulary for Directions in Finnish

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Do you know your left from your right in Finnish? Asking for directions can mean the difference between a heavenly day on the beach and a horrible day on your feet, hot and bothered and wondering how to even get back to the hotel. Believe me – I know! On my earlier travels, I didn’t even know simple terms like ‘go straight ahead’ or ‘go west,’ and I was always too shy to ask locals for directions. It wasn’t my ego, but rather the language barrier that held me back. I’ve ended up in some pretty dodgy situations for my lack of directional word skills.

This never needs to happen! When traveling in Finland, you should step out in confidence, ready to work your Finnish magic and have a full day of exploring. It’s about knowing a few basic phrases and then tailoring them with the right directional words for each situation. Do you need to be pointed south in Finnish? Just ask! Believe me, people are more willing to help than you might think. It’s when you ask in English that locals might feel too uncertain to answer you. After all, they don’t want to get you lost. For this reason, it also makes sense that you learn how to understand people’s responses. 

Asking directions in Finland is inevitable. So, learn to love it! Our job here at FinnishPod101 is to give you the confidence you need to fully immerse and be the intrepid adventurer you are.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Around Town in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Talking about position and direction in Finnish
  2. Getting directions in Finnish
  3. Conclusion

1. Talking about position and direction in Finnish

Have you ever tried saying the compass directions of north, south, east and west in Finnish? These words are good to know, being the most natural and ancient method of finding direction. In the days before GPS – before the invention of the compass, even – knowing the cardinal directions was critical to finding the way. Certainly, if you were lost somewhere in the mountain regions now and using a map to navigate, you’d find them useful. Even more so if you and a Finnish friend were adrift at sea, following the stars!

In most situations, though, we rely on body relative directions – your basic up, down, left and right, forward and backwards. Most cultures use relative directions for reference and Finnish is no exception. Interestingly, in a few old languages there are no words for left and right and people still rely on cardinal directions every day. Can you imagine having such a compass brain?

A black compass on a colored map

Well, scientists say that all mammals have an innate sense of direction, so getting good at finding your way is just a matter of practice. It’s pretty cool to think that we were born already pre-wired to grasp directions; the descriptive words we invented are mere labels to communicate these directions to others! Thus, the need to learn some Finnish positional vocabulary. So, without further ado… let’s dive in.

1- Top – huippu

If planting a flag at the top of the highest mountain in Finland is a goal you’d rather leave for  adrenaline junkies, how about making it to the top of the highest building? Your view of the city will be one you’ll never forget, and you can take a selfie  for Twitter with your head in the clouds. 

man on the top rung of a ladder in the sky, about to topple off

2- Bottom – pohja

The ‘bottom’ can refer to the lower end of a road, the foot of a mountain, or the ground floor of a building. It’s the place you head for after you’ve been to the top!

What are your favorite ‘bottoms’? I love the first rung of a ladder, the base of a huge tree or the bottom of a jungle-covered hill. What can I say? I’m a climber. Divers like the bottom of the ocean and foxes like the bottom of a hole. Since you’re learning Finnish, hopefully you’ll travel from the top to the bottom of Finland.

3- Up – ylös

This is a very common and useful word to know when seeking directions. You can go up the street, up an elevator, up a cableway, up a mountain… even up into the sky in a hot air balloon. It all depends on how far up you like to be!

Hot air balloons in a blue cloudy sky

4- Down – alas

What goes up, must surely come down. This is true of airplanes, flaming arrows and grasshoppers – either aeronautics or gravity will take care of that. In the case of traveling humans who don’t wish to go down at terminal velocity, it’s useful to know phrases such as, “Excuse me, where is the path leading back down this mountain?”

5- Middle – keskikohta

In Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s characters live in Middle-earth, which is just an ancient word for the inhabited world of men; it referred to the physical world, as opposed to the unseen worlds above and below it. The ancients also thought of the human world as vaguely in the middle of the encircling seas.

When we talk about the ‘middle’, we’re referring to a point that’s roughly between two horizontal lines – like the middle of the road or the middle of a river. While you’re unlikely to ask for directions to the ‘middle’ of anything, you might hear it as a response. For example, “You’re looking for the castle ruins? But they’re in the middle of the forest!”

Castle ruins in a forest

6- Center – keskusta

Although similar in meaning to ‘middle’, this word is more specific. Technically, it means the exact central point of a circular area, equally distant from every point on the circumference.  When asking for directions to the center of town, though, we don’t mean to find a mathematically-accurate pinpoint!

Bull’s eye on a dartboard

7- Front – etuosa

The front is the place or position that is seen first; it’s the most forward part of something.  In the case of a hotel, the front is going to be easy to recognize, so if you call a taxi and are told to wait “in front of the hotel”, you won’t have a problem. It’s pretty cool how just knowing the main Finnish directional words can help you locate something if there’s a good landmark nearby.

8- Back – takapuoli

I once rented a house in a charming little street that was tucked away at the back of a popular mall. It was so easy to find, but my boss took three hours to locate it from 300 meters away. Why? Well, because she spoke no English and I had no clue what the word for ‘back’ was. All she heard, no matter which way I said it, was “mall, mall, mall”.  As a result, she hunted in front of and next to the mall until she was frazzled. 

Knowing how to describe the location of your own residence is probably the first Finnish ‘directions’ you should practice. This skill will certainly come in handy if you’re lost and looking for your way home. 

9- Side – puoli

If the place you’re looking for is at the ‘side’ of something, it will be located to the left or the right of that landmark. That could mean you’re looking for an alleyway beside a building, or a second entrance (as opposed to the main entrance). 

As an example, you might be told that your tour bus will be waiting at the right side of the building, not in front. Of course, then you’ll also need to understand “It’s on the right” in Finnish.

Jeepney taxi parked at the side of a building

10- East – itä

If you’re facing north, then east is the direction of your right hand. It’s the direction toward which the Earth rotates about its axis, and therefore the general direction from which the sun appears to rise. If you want to go east using a compass for navigation, you should set a bearing of 90°. 

We think of Asia as the ‘East’. Geographically, this part of the world lies in the eastern hemisphere, but there’s so much more that we’ve come to associate with this word. The East signifies ancient knowledge and is symbolic of enlightenment in many cultures.

Monks reading on a boulder in front of a Buddha statue

11- West – länsi

West is the opposite to east and it’s the direction in which the sun sets. To go west using a compass, you’ll set a bearing of 270 degrees. 

If you were on the planet Venus, which rotates in the opposite direction from the Earth (retrograde rotation), the Sun would rise in the west and set in the east… not that you’d be able to see the sun through Venus’s opaque clouds. 

Culturally, the West refers mainly to the Americas and Europe, but also to Australia and New Zealand, which are geographically in the East. The Western way of thinking is very different to that of the East. One of the most striking differences is individualism versus collectivism. In the West, we grew up with philosophies of freedom and independence, whereas in the East concepts of unity are more important. 

Food for thought: as a traveler who’s invested in learning the languages and cultures of places you visit, you have an opportunity to become a wonderfully balanced thinker – something the world needs more of.

12- North – pohjoinen

North is the top point of a map and when navigating, you’d set a compass bearing of 360 degrees if you want to go that way. Globes of the earth have the north pole at the top, and we use north as the direction by which we define all other directions.

If you look into the night sky, the North Star (Polaris) marks the way due north. It’s an amazing star, in that it holds nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around it. That’s because it’s located nearly at the north celestial pole – the point around which the entire northern sky turns. Definitely a boon for lost travelers!

The North Star with the Big Dipper in a night sky

13- South – etelä

South is the opposite of north, and it’s perpendicular to the east and west. You can find it with a compass if you set your bearings to 180 degrees. 

The south celestial pole is the point around which the entire southern sky appears to turn. In the night sky of the southern hemisphere, the Southern Cross is a very easy to find constellation with four points in the shape of a diamond. If you come from the southern hemisphere, chances are your dad or mum pointed it out to you when you were a kid. You can use the Southern Cross to find south if traveling by night, so it’s well worth figuring it out!

14- Outside – ulkona

This word refers to any place that is not under a roof. Perhaps you’ve heard talk about some amazing local bands that will be playing in a nearby town on the weekend. If it’s all happening outside, you’ll be looking for a venue in a park, a stadium or some other big open space. Come rain or shine, outside definitely works for me!

A young woman on someone’s shoulders at an outdoor concert

15- Inside – sisällä

I can tolerate being inside if all the windows are open, or if I’m watching the latest Homeland episode. How about you? I suppose going shopping for Finnish-style accessories would be pretty fun, too, and that will (mostly) be an inside affair. 

16- Opposite – vastakkainen

This is a great word to use as a reference point for locating a place. It’s right opposite that other place! In other words, if you stand with your back to the given landmark, your destination will be right in front of you. 

17- Adjacent – läheinen

So, the adorable old man from next door, who looks about ninety-nine, explains in Finnish that the food market where he works is adjacent to the community hall on the main road. ‘Adjacent’ just means next to or adjoining something else, so… head for the hall! 

While you’re marveling at the wondrous and colorful displays of Finnish food, think about how all of these delicious stalls lie adjacent to one another. Having a happy visual association with a new word is a proven way to remember it!

Outdoor food market fruit display

18- Toward – kohti

To go toward something is to go in its direction and get closer to it. This word can often appear in a sentence with ‘straight ahead’, as in:

“Go straight ahead, toward the park.”

If you’ve come to Finland to teach English, you might have to ask someone how to find your new school. Depending on what town you’re in, you could simply head toward the residential area at lunch time. You’ll see (and probably hear) the primary school soon enough – it will be the big fenced building with all the kids running around the yard!

19- Facing – vastatusten

If you look at yourself in a mirror, you’ll be facing your reflection. In other words: you and your reflection look directly at each other.  Many plush hotels are ocean-facing or river-facing, meaning the main entrance is pointed directly at the water, and the beach out front faces the hotel. 

20- Beside – vieressä

I know of a special little place where there’s a gym right beside a river. You can watch the sun go down over the water while working out – it’s amazing. What’s more, you can park your scooter beside the building and it will still be there when you come out.

21- Corner – kulma

I love a corner when it comes to directions. A street corner is where two roads meet at an angle – often 90 degrees – making it easier to find than a location on a straight plane. 

“Which building is the piano teacher in, sir?”

“Oh, that’s easy – it’s the one on the corner.”

The key to a corner is that it leads in two directions. It could form a crossroads, a huge intersection, or it could be the start of a tiny one-way cobblestone street with hidden treasures waiting in the shadow of the buildings.

A white and yellow building on the corner of two streets

22- Distant – kaukainen

When a location is distant, it’s in an outlying area. This Finnish word refers to the remoteness of the site, not to how long it takes to get there. For that reason, it’s a very good idea to write the directions down, rather than try to memorize them in Finnish. Even better, get a Finnish person to write them down for you. This may seem obvious, but always include the location of your starting point! Any directions you’re given will be relative to the exact place you’re starting from.

Man lost on a dusty road, looking at a road map and scratching his head

23- Far – kaukana

This word has a similar meaning to the previous one, but it speaks more about the fact that it will take some time to get there. If you’re told that your destination is “far”,  you’ll no doubt want to go by public transport if you don’t have your own vehicle. Get your hands on a road map and have the directions explained to you using this map. Don’t hesitate to bring out the highlighters. 

24- Close – lähellä

This word is always a good one to hear when you have your heart set on a very relaxing day in the sun. It means there’s only a short distance to travel, so you can get there in a heartbeat and let the tanning commence. Remember to grab your Nook Book – learning is enhanced when you’re feeling happy and unencumbered. Being close to ‘home’ also means you can safely steal maximum lazy hours and leave the short return trip for sunset! 

A smiling woman lying in a hammock on the beach

25- By – mennessä

This word identifies the position of a physical object beside another object or a place. A Bed and Breakfast can be ‘by the sea’ if it’s in close proximity to the sea. 

‘By’ can also be used to describe the best mode of transport for your route, as in:

“You can get there by bus.”

26- Surrounding – ympäröivä

If something is surrounding you, it is on every side and you are enclosed by it – kind of like being in a boat. Of course, we’re not talking about deep water here, unless you’re planning on going fishing. Directions that include this word are more likely to refer to the surrounding countryside, or any other features that are all around the place you’re looking for.

A polar bear stuck on a block of ice, completely surrounded by water.

27- All sides – kaikki puolet

Another useful descriptive Finnish term to know is ‘all sides’. It simply means that from a particular point, you will be able to see the same features to the front, back and sides of you. It doesn’t necessarily imply you’ll be completely surrounded, just more-or-less so. Say, for example, you’re visiting the winelands for the day. When you get there, you’ll see vineyards on all sides of you. How stunning! Don’t neglect to sample the local wines – obviously. 

28- Next to – vieressä

The person giving you directions is probably standing next to you. The place being described as ‘next to’ something is in a position immediately to one side of it. It could refer to adjoining buildings, neighbouring stores, or the one-legged beggar who sits next to the beautiful flower vendor on weekdays. ‘Next to’ is a great positional term, as everything is next to something! 

“Excuse me, Ma’am.  Where is the train station?”

“It’s that way – next to the tourist market.”

29- Above – yläpuolella

This is the direction you’ll be looking at if you turn your head upwards. Relative to where your body is, it’s a point higher than your head. If you’re looking for the location of a place that’s ‘above’ something, it’s likely to be on at least the first floor of a building; in other words, above another floor.

‘Above’ could also refer to something that will be visible overhead when you get to the right place. For example, the road you’re looking for might have holiday decorations strung up from pole to pole above it. In the cities, this is very likely if there’s any kind of festival going on.

View from below of a carnival swing, with riders directly above the viewer

30- Under – alla

Under is the opposite of above, and refers to a place that lies beneath something else. In the case of directions in Finnish, it could refer to going under a bridge – always a great landmark – or perhaps through a subway. In some parts of the world, you can even travel through a tunnel that’s under the sea!

Of course, you might just be missing your home brew and looking for an awesome coffee shop that happens to be under the very cool local gym you were also looking for. Nice find!

2. Getting directions in Finnish

The quickest and easiest way to find out how to get where you’re going is simply to ask someone. Most people on the streets of Finland won’t mind being asked at all and will actually appreciate your attempt to ask directions in Finnish. After all, most tourists are more inclined to ask in their own language and hope for the best. How pedestrian is that, though?

Asking directions

I know, I know – you normally prefer to find your own way without asking. Well, think of it like this: you obviously need to practice asking questions in Finnish as much as you need to practice small talk, counting, or ordering a beer. Since you can’t very well ask a complete stranger if they would please help you count to five hundred, you’ll have to stick with asking directions!

We spoke earlier about body relative directions and these tend to be the ones we use most. For example:

“Turn left.”

“Go straight.”

“Turn right.” 

Remember, too, that your approach is important. Many people are wary of strangers and you don’t want to scare them off. It’s best to be friendly, direct and get to the point quickly.  A simple ‘Hi, can you help me?” or “Excuse me, I’m a bit lost,” will suffice. If you have a map in your hand, even better, as your intentions will be clear. 

The bottom line is that if you want to find your way around Finland with ease, it’s a good idea to master these basic phrases. With a little practice, you can also learn how to say directions in Finnish. Before you know it, you’ll be the one explaining the way!

3. Conclusion

Now that you have over thirty new directional phrases you can learn in Finnish, there’s no need to fear losing your way when you hit the streets of Finland. All you need is a polite approach and your own amazing smile, and the locals will be excited to help you. It’s a chance for them to get better at explaining things to a foreigner, too. Most will enjoy that!

I advise keeping a few things handy in your day pack: a street map, a highlighter, a small notebook and pen, and your Finnish phrasebook. It would be useful to also have the Finnish WordPower app installed on your phone – available for both iPhone and Android

Here’s a quick challenge to get you using the new terms right away. Can you translate these directions into Finnish?

“It’s close. Go straight ahead to the top of the hill and turn left at the corner. The building is on the right, opposite a small bus stop.”

You’re doing amazingly well to have come this far! Well done on tackling the essential topic of ‘directions’ – it’s a brave challenge that will be immensely rewarding. Trust me, when you’re standing at a beautiful location that you found just by knowing what to ask in Finnish, you’re going to feel pretty darn good.

If you’re as excited as I am about taking Finnish to an even deeper level, we have so much more to offer you. Did you know that we’ve already had over 1 billion lesson downloads? I know – we’re blown away by that, too. It’s amazing to be bringing the world’s languages to people who are so hungry for learning. Let me share some of our best options for you:

  • If you haven’t done so already, grab your free lifetime account as a start. You’ll get audio and video lessons, plus vocabulary building tools. 
  • My favorite freebie is the word of the day, which will arrive in your inbox every morning. Those are the words I remember best!
  • Start listening to Finnish music. I’m serious – it really works to make the resistant parts of the brain relax and accept the new language. Read about it here for some tips.
  • If you enjoy reading, we have some great iBooks for your daily commute.
  • If you have a Kindle and prefer to do your reading on a picnic blanket,  there are over 6 hours of unique lessons in Finnish for you right there.

That’s it for today! Join FinnishPod101 to discover many more ways that we can offer you a truly fun and enriching language learning experience. Happy travels!

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Essential Vocabulary for Life Events in Finnish

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What is the most defining moment you will face this year? From memories that you immortalize in a million photographs, to days you never wish to remember, one thing’s for certain: big life events change you. The great poet, Bukowski, said, “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well, that death will tremble to take us.” The older I get, the more I agree with him!

Talking about significant events in our lives is part of every person’s journey, regardless of creed or culture. If you’re planning to stay in Finland for more than a quick visit, you’re sure to need at least a few ‘life events’ phrases that you can use. After all, many of these are shared experiences, and it’s generally expected that we will show up with good manners and warm wishes.

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Table of Contents

  1. Life Events
  2. Marriage Proposal Lines
  3. Talking About Age
  4. Conclusion

1. Life Events

Do you know how to say “Happy New Year” in Finnish? Well, the New Year is a pretty big deal that the whole world is in on! We celebrate until midnight, make mindful resolutions, and fill the night sky with the same happy words in hundreds of languages. No doubt, then, that you’ll want to know how to say it like a local!

Big life events are not all about fun times, though. Real life happens even when you’re traveling, and certain terminology will be very helpful to know. From talking about your new job to wishing your neighbors “Merry Christmas” in Finnish, here at FinnishPod101, we’ve put together just the right vocabulary and phrases for you.

1- Birthday – syntymäpäivä

If you’re like me, any excuse to bring out a pen and scribble a note is a good one. When there’s a birthday, even better: hello, handwriting!

Your Finnish friend will love hearing you wish them a “Happy birthday” in Finnish, but how much more will they appreciate a thoughtful written message? Whether you write it on their Facebook wall or buy a cute card, your effort in Finnish is sure to get them smiling! Write it like this:

Hyvää syntymäpäivää

Older Woman Blowing Out Candles on a Birthday Cake Surrounded by Friends.

Now that you know the words, I challenge you to put them to music and sing your own “Happy birthday” song in Finnish! It’s not impossible to figure out even more lyrics, once you start discovering the language from scratch.

2- Buy – ostaa

If there’s a special occasion, you might want to buy somebody a gift. As long as you’ve checked out Finnish etiquette on gift-giving (do a Google search for this!), it will be a lovely gesture. If you’re not sure what to buy, how about the awesome and universally-appealing gift of language? That’s a gift that won’t stop giving!

Two Women at a Counter in a Bookstore, One Buying a Book

3- Retire – jäädä eläkkeelle

If you’re planning to expand your mind and retire in Finland, you can use this word to tell people why you seem to be on a perpetual vacation!

Retirement is also a great time to learn a new language, don’t you think? And you don’t have to do it alone! These days it’s possible to connect to a vibrant learning community at the click of a button. The added benefit of a Daily Dose of Language is that it keeps your brain cells alive and curious about the world. After all, it’s never too late to realize those long-ignored dreams of traveling the globe…

4- Graduation – valmistuminen

When attending a graduation ceremony in Finland, be prepared for a lot of formal language! It will be a great opportunity to listen carefully and see if you can pick up differences from the everyday Finnish you hear.

Lecturer or University Dean Congratulating and Handing Over Graduation Certificate to a Young Man on Graduation Day.

5- Promotion – ylennys

Next to vacation time, receiving a promotion is the one career highlight almost everyone looks forward to. And why wouldn’t you? Sure, it means more responsibility, but it also means more money and benefits and – the part I love most – a change of scenery! Even something as simple as looking out a new office window would boost my mood.

6- Anniversary – vuosipäivä

Some anniversaries we anticipate with excitement, others with apprehension. They are days marking significant events in our lives that can be shared with just one person, or with a whole nation. Whether it’s a special day for you and a loved one, or for someone else you know, this word is crucial to know if you want to wish them a happy anniversary in Finnish.

7- Funeral – hautajaiset

We tend to be uncomfortable talking about funerals in the west, but it’s an important conversation for families to have. Around the world, there are many different customs and rituals for saying goodbye to deceased loved ones – some vastly different to our own. When traveling in Finland, if you happen to find yourself the unwitting observer of a funeral, take a quiet moment to appreciate the cultural ethos; even this can be an enriching experience for you.

8- Travel – matkustaa

Travel – my favorite thing to do! Everything about the experience is thrilling and the best cure for boredom, depression, and uncertainty about your future. You will surely be forever changed, fellow traveler! But you already know this, don’t you? Well, now that you’re on the road to total Finnish immersion, I hope you’ve downloaded our IOS apps and have your Nook Book handy to keep yourself entertained on those long bus rides.

Young Female Tourist with a Backpack Taking a Photo of the Arc de Triomphe

9- Graduate – valmistua

If you have yet to graduate from university, will you be job-hunting in Finland afterward? Forward-looking companies sometimes recruit talented students who are still in their final year. Of course, you could also do your final year abroad as an international student – an amazing experience if you’d love to be intellectually challenged and make a rainbow of foreign friends!

10- Wedding – häät

One of the most-loved traditions that humans have thought up, which you’ll encounter anywhere in the world, is a wedding. With all that romance in the air and months spent on preparations, a wedding is typically a feel-good affair. Two people pledge their eternal love to each other, ladies cry, single men look around for potential partners, and everybody has a happy day of merrymaking.

Ah, but how diverse we are in our expression of love! You will find more wedding traditions around the world than you can possibly imagine. From reciting love quotes to marrying a tree, the options leave no excuse to be boring!

Married Couple During Reception, Sitting at Their Table While a Young Man Gives a Wedding Speech

11- Move – muuttaa

I love Finland, but I’m a nomad and tend to move around a lot, even within one country. What are the biggest emotions you typically feel when moving house? The experts say moving is a highly stressful event, but I think that depends on the circumstances. Transitional periods in our lives are physically and mentally demanding, but changing your environment is also an exciting adventure that promises new tomorrows!

12- Be born – syntyä

I was not born in 1993, nor was I born in Asia. I was born in the same year as Aishwarya Rai, Akon, and Monica Lewinsky, and on the same continent as Freddy Mercury. When and where were you born? More importantly – can you say it in Finnish?

13- Get a job – saada työpaikka

The thought of looking for a job in a new country can be daunting, but English speakers are in great demand in Finland – you just have to do some research, make a few friends and get out there! Also, arming yourself with a few Finnish introductions that you can both say and write will give you a confidence boost. For example, can you write your name in Finnish?

Group of People in Gear that Represent a Number of Occupations.

14- Die – kuolla

Death is a universal experience and the final curtain on all other life events. How important is it, then, to fully live before we die? If all you have is a passport, a bucket list, and a willingness to learn some lingo, you can manifest those dreams!

15- Home – koti

If home is where the heart is, then my home is on a jungle island completely surrounded by the turquoise ocean. Right now, though, home is an isolation room with a view of half a dry palm tree and a tangle of telephone wires.

If you’re traveling to Finland for an extended stay, you’ll soon be moving into a new home quite unlike anything you’ve experienced before!

Large, Double-Story House with Lit Windows.

16- Job – työ

What job do you do? Does it allow you much time for travel, or for working on this fascinating language that has (so rightfully) grabbed your attention? Whatever your job, you are no doubt contributing to society in a unique way. If you’re doing what you love, you’re already on the road to your dream. If not, just remember that every single task is one more skill to add to your arsenal. With that attitude, your dream job is coming!

17- Birth – syntymä

Random question: do you know the birth rate of Finland?

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to see a friend’s baby just after they are born, you’ll have all my respect and all my envy. There is nothing cuter! Depending on which part of the country you’re in, you may find yourself bearing witness to some pretty unexpected birth customs. Enjoy this privilege!

Crying Newborn Baby Held By a Doctor or Nurse in a Hospital Theatre

18- Engaged – mennä kihloihin

EE Cummings said, “Lovers alone wear sunlight,” and I think that’s most true at the moment she says “yes.” Getting engaged is something young girls dream of with stars in their eyes, and it truly is a magical experience – from the proposal, to wearing an engagement ring, to the big reveal!

In the world of Instagram, there’s no end to the antics as imaginative couples try more and more outrageous ways to share their engagement with the world. I love an airport flashmob, myself, but I’d rather be proposed to on a secluded beach – salt, sand, and all!

Engagement customs around the world vary greatly, and Finland is no exception when it comes to interesting traditions. Learning their unique romantic ways will inspire you for when your turn comes.

Speaking of romance, do you know how to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” in Finnish?

19- Marry – mennä naimisiin

The one you marry will be the gem on a shore full of pebbles. They will be the one who truly mirrors your affection, shares your visions for the future, and wants all of you – the good, the bad and the inexplicable.

From thinking up a one-of-a-kind wedding, to having children, to growing old together, finding a twin flame to share life with is quite an accomplishment! Speaking of which…

2. Marriage Proposal Lines

Marriage Proposal Lines

Ah, that heart-stopping moment when your true love gets down on one knee to ask for your hand in marriage, breathlessly hoping that you’ll say “Yes!” If you haven’t experienced that – well, it feels pretty darn good, is all I can say! If you’re the one doing the asking, though, you’ve probably had weeks of insomnia agonizing over the perfect time, location and words to use.

Man on His Knee Proposing to a Woman on a Bridge.

How much more care should be taken if your love is from a different culture to yours? Well, by now you know her so well, that most of it should be easy to figure out. As long as you’ve considered her personal commitment to tradition, all you really need is a few words from the heart. Are you brave enough to say them in Finnish?

3. Talking About Age

Talking about Age

Part of the wonder of learning a new language is having the ability to strike up simple conversations with strangers. Asking about age in this context feels natural, as your intention is to practice friendly phrases – just be mindful of their point of view!

When I was 22, I loved being asked my age. Nowadays, if someone asks, I say, “Well, I’ve just started my fifth cat life.” Let them ponder that for a while.

In Finland, it’s generally not desirable to ask an older woman her age for no good reason, but chatting about age with your peers is perfectly normal. Besides, you have to mention your birthday if you want to be thrown a birthday party!

4. Conclusion

Well, there you have it! With so many great new Finnish phrases to wish people with, can you think of someone who has a big event coming up? If you want to get even more creative, FinnishPod101 has much to inspire you with – come and check it out! Here’s just some of what we have on offer at FinnishPod101:

  • Free Resources: Sharing is caring, and for this reason, we share many free resources with our students. For instance, start learning Finnish with our basic online course by creating a lifetime account – for free! Also get free daily and iTunes lessons, free eBooks, free mobile apps, and free access to our blog and online community. Or how about free Vocabulary Lists? The Finnish dictionary is for exclusive use by our students, also for free. There’s so much to love about FinnishPod101…!
  • Innovative Learning Tools and Apps: We make it our priority to offer you the best learning tools! These include apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Mac OSX; eBooks for Kindle, Nook, and iPad; audiobooks; Roku TV and so many more. This means that we took diverse lifestyles into account when we developed our courses, so you can learn anywhere, anytime on a device of your choice. How innovative!
  • Live Hosts and One-on-One Learning: Knowledgeable, energetic hosts present recorded video lessons, and are available for live teaching experiences if you upgrade. This means that in the videos, you get to watch them pronounce those tongue-twisters, as if you’re learning live! Add octane to your learning by upgrading to Premium Plus, and learn two times faster. You can have your very own Finnish teacher always with you, ensuring that you learn what you need, when you need to – what a wonderful opportunity to master a new language in record time!
  • Start Where You Are: You don’t know a single Finnish word? Not to worry, we’ve absolutely got this. Simply enroll in our Absolute Beginner Pathway and start speaking from Lesson 1! As your learning progresses, you can enroll in other pathways to match your Finnish level, at your own pace, in your own time, in your own place!

Learning a new language can only enrich your life, and could even open doors towards great opportunities! So don’t wonder if you’ll regret enrolling in FinnishPod101. It’s the most fun, easy way to learn Finnish.

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Talk About the Weather in Finnish Like a Native

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Did you know that every minute of the day, one billion tons of rain falls on the earth? Hard to believe, considering the climate crisis! Of course, all that rain is not equally shared across the planet.

So, would you mention this fascinating fact to your new Finnish acquaintance? Well, small talk about local weather is actually a great conversation-starter. Everyone cares about the weather and you’re sure to hear a few interesting opinions! Seasons can be quite unpredictable these days and nobody knows the peculiarities of a region better than the locals.

FinnishPod101 will equip you with all the weather vocabulary you need to plan your next adventure. The weather can even be an important discussion that influences your adventure plans. After all, you wouldn’t want to get caught on an inflatable boat with a two-horsepower motor in Hurricane Horrendous!

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Table of Contents

  1. Talking about the weather in Finland
  2. Words for the first day of spring
  3. Do You Know the Essential Summer Vocabulary?
  4. Must-Know Autumn vocabulary
  5. Winter
  6. FinnishPod101 can prepare you for any season.

1. Talking about the weather in Finland

Talking About Weather

If you’re like me, your day’s activity plan is likely to begin with a strong local coffee and a chat about what the sky is doing. After all, being prepared could be the difference between an amazing day and a miserable one! Luckily, it’s not difficult to comment on Finnish weather – just start with these simple words and phrases.

1- The rain is falling on the street – Sade putoaa kadulle.

Watercolor artists, take out your paints! You might not be able to venture out on foot today, but just embrace the rain as part of your Finnish experience. When the rain stops, the air will be clean and colours vibrant.

2- Falling snow – satava lumi

A fresh blanket of snow is irresistibly beautiful. Pull on your boots and beanie, and leave your tracks in this foreign landscape. Don’t resist the urge to build a snowman – you need this!

3- Fluffy cloud – pehmeä pilvi

When you’re waiting for a warm beach day, fluffy white clouds in a blue sky are a good sign. Don’t forget your sunscreen, as clouds will intensify the UV rays hitting your skin.

Fluffy White Cloud in Clear Blue Sky

4- The water froze on the glass – Vesi jäätyi lasissa.

Night temperatures can get chilly and might freeze the condensation on your windows. A good way to clear them up is with warm salt water.

5- The heavy rain could cause flash flooding – Tämä rankkasade voisi aiheuttaa suuren tulvan.

If you’re visiting Finland in the wet season, it’s important to stay informed when heavy rain sets in, so keep an eye on the weather radar. Avoid river activities and rather spend this time making a home-cooked meal and brushing up on your Finnish weather words.

Heavy Rain in a Park

6- Flood – tulva

If you do get caught in a flood, your destination should no longer be ‘home’, but the nearest high ground.

7- The typhoon has hit – Hirmumyrsky on iskenyt.

Not all countries experience typhoons, but you need to know when to prepare for one! It will be very scary if you’ve never experienced one before. Your local neighbours are the best people to advise you on where to take shelter, as they’ve been doing it for generations. Be sure to get the low-down at the first sign of rough weather!

8- Check the weather report before going sailing – Katso säätiedotus ennenkuin lähdet purjehtimaan.

When planning an outdoor activity, especially on a body of water, always be prepared for a change in the weather. Ask your hotel receptionist or neighbour where you can get a reliable daily weather report, and don’t forget your sweater!

Two Men on Sailboat

9- Today’s weather is sunny with occasional clouds – Tänään on ajoittain pilvinen aurinkoinen ilma.

Sunny weather is the dream when traveling in Finland! Wake up early, pack the hats and sunblock and go and experience the terrain, sights and beautiful spots. You’ll be rewarded with happy vibes all around.

10- A rainy day – sateinen päivä

Remember when you said you’d save the Finnish podcasts for a rainy day? Now’s that day!

11- Scenic rainbow – luonnonkaunis sateenkaari

The best part about the rain is that you can look forward to your first rainbow in Finland. There’s magic in that!

12- Flashes of lightning can be beautiful, but are very dangerous – Salaman välähtelyt voivat olla kauniita, mutta ne ovat vaarallisia.

Lightning is one of the most fascinating weather phenomena you can witness without really being in danger – at least if you’re sensible and stay indoors! Did you know that lightning strikes the earth 40-50 times per second? Fortunately, not all countries experience heavy electric storms!

Electric Storm

13- 25 degrees Celsius – 25 celsiusastetta

Asking a local what the outside temperature will be is another useful question for planning your day. It’s easy if you know the Finnish term for ‘degrees Celsius’.

14- Water freezes at thirty-two (32) degrees Fahrenheit – Vesi jäätyy 32 Fahrenheit-asteessa.

Although the Fahrenheit system has been replaced by Celsius in almost all countries, it’s still used in the US and a few other places. Learn this phrase in Finnish in case one of your companions develops a raging fever.

15- Clear sky – pilvetön

Clear skies mean you’ll probably want to get the camera out and capture some nature shots – not to mention the great sunsets you’ll have later on. Twilight can lend an especially magical quality to a landscape on a clear sky day, when the light is not filtered through clouds.

Hikers on Mountain with Clear Sky

16- Light drizzle – kevyt tihkusade

Days when it’s drizzling are perfect for taking in the cultural offerings of Finland. You could go to the mall and watch a Finnish film, visit museums and art galleries, explore indoor markets or even find the nearest climbing wall. Bring an umbrella!

17- Temperature – lämpötila

Because of the coronavirus, many airports are conducting temperature screening on passengers. Don’t worry though – it’s just a precaution. Your temperature might be taken with a no-touch thermometer, which measures infrared energy coming off the body.

18- Humid – kostea

I love humid days, but then I’m also a water baby and I think the two go
together like summer and rain. Find a pool or a stream to cool off in – preferably in the shade!

Humidity in Tropical Forest

19- With low humidity the air feels dry – Ilmankosteuden ollessa matala ilma tuntuu kuivalta.

These are the best days to go walking the hills and vales. Just take at least one Finnish friend with you so you don’t get lost!

20- The wind is really strong – Tuuli on todella kova.

A strong wind blows away the air pollution and is very healthy in that respect. Just avoid the mountain trails today, unless you fancy being blown across the continent like a hot air balloon.

21- It’s windy outside – Ulkona on tuulista.

Wind! My least favourite weather condition. Of course, if you’re a kitesurfer, a windy day is what you’ve been waiting for!

Leaves and Umbrella in the Wind

22- Wet roads can ice over when the temperature falls below freezing – Märät tiet voivat jäätyä kun lämpötila putoaa nollan alapuolelle.

The roads will be dangerous in these conditions, so please don’t take chances. The ice will thaw as soon as the sun comes out, so be patient!

23- Today is very muggy – Tänään on erittäin kuumankosteaa.

Muggy days make your skin feel sticky and sap your energy. They’re particular to high humidity. Cold shower, anyone? Ice vest? Whatever it takes to feel relief from the humidity!

24- Fog – sumu

Not a great time to be driving, especially in unknown territory, but keep your fog lights on and drive slowly.

Fog on a Pond with Ducks

25- Hurricane – hurrikaani

Your new Finnish friends will know the signs, so grab some food and candles and prepare for a night of staying warm and chatting about wild weather in Finland.

Palm Trees in a Hurricane

26- Big tornado – suuri pyörremyrsky

If you hear these words, it will probably be obvious already that everyone is preparing for the worst! Definitely do whatever your accommodation hosts tell you to do when a tornado is expected.

27- Cloudy – pilvinen

While there won’t be any stargazing tonight, the magnificent clouds over Finland will make impressive photographs. Caption them in Finnish to impress your friends back home!

Cloudy Weather on Beach with Beach Huts

28- Below freezing temperatures – pakkasasteet

When the temperature is below freezing, why not take an Uber and go shopping for some gorgeous Finnish winter gear?

Woman with Winter Gear in Freezing Weather

29- Wind chill is how cold it really feels outside – Pakkasen purevuus kertoo kuinka kylmä ulkona oikeastaan on.

Wind doesn’t change the ambient temperature of the air, it just changes your body temperature, so the air will feel colder to you than it actually is. Not all your Finnish friends will know that, though, so learn this Finnish phrase to sound really smart!

30- Water will freeze when the temperature falls below zero degrees celsius – Vesi jäätyy kun lämpötila laskee alle nollan celsiusasteen.

If you’re near a lake, frozen water is good news! Forgot your ice skates? Don’t despair – find out where you can hire some. Be cautious, though: the ice needs to be at least four inches thick for safe skating. Personally, I just slide around on frozen lakes in my boots!

Thermometer Below Freezing Point

31- Clear up – seljetä

Waiting for the weather to clear up so you can go exploring is frustrating, let’s be honest. That’s why you should always travel with two things: a scintillating novel and your Finnish Nook Book.

32- Avoid the extreme heat – välttää hellettä

Is the heat trying to kill you? Unless you’re a hardened heatwave hero, definitely avoid activity, stay hydrated and drink electrolytes. Loose cotton or linen garb is the way to go!

Hand Holding a Melting Ice Cream

33- Morning frost – aamukuura

Frost is water vapour that has turned to ice crystals and it happens when the earth cools so much in the night, that it gets colder than the air above it. Winter is coming!

34- Rain shower – sadekuuro

Rain showers are typically brief downpours that drench the earth with a good drink of water.

35- In the evening it will become cloudy and cold – Illalla pilvistyy ja viilenee.

When I hear this on the Finnish weather channel, I buy a bottle of wine (red, of course) and wood for the fireplace. A cold and cloudy evening needs its comforts!

Snow in the Park at Night

36- Severe thunderstorm – raju ukkosmyrsky

Keep an eye on the Finnish weather maps if it looks like a big storm is coming, so you’ll be well-informed.

37- Ice has formed on the window – Ikkunaan on muodostunut jäätä.

You could try this phrase out on the hotel’s helpful cleaning staff, or fix the problem yourself. Just add a scoop or two of salt to a spray bottle of water – that should work!

38- Large hailstones – suuria rakeita

As a kid, I found hail crazy exciting. Not so much now – especially if I’m on the road and large hailstones start pummeling my windscreen!

Large Hailstones on a Wooden Floor

39- Rolling thunder – jyrisevä ukkonen

The rumble of rolling thunder is that low-volume, ominous background sound that goes on for some time. It’s strangely exciting if you’re safely in your hotel room; it could either suddenly clear up, or escalate to a storm.

40- Sleet – räntä

Sleet is tiny hard pieces of ice made from a mixture of rain and melted snow that froze. It can be messy, but doesn’t cause major damage the way hail does. Pretty cool to know this word in Finnish!

2. Words for the first day of spring

You know the feeling: your heart skips a beat when you wake up and spring has sprung! Spring will reward you with new blossoms everywhere, birdsong in the air, kittens being born in the neighborhood and lovely views when you hit the trails. Pack a picnic and ask a new Finnish friend to show you the more natural sights. Don’t forget a light sweater and a big smile. This is the perfect time to practice some Finnish spring words!

Spring Vocabulary

3. Do You Know the Essential Summer Vocabulary?

Summer! Who doesn’t love that word? It conjures up images of blue skies, tan skin, vacations at the beach and cruising down the coast in an Alfa Romeo, sunglasses on and the breeze in your hair. Of course, in Finland there are many ways to enjoy the summer – it all depends on what you love to do. One thing’s for sure: you will have opportunities to make friends, go on picnics, sample delicious local ice-cream and maybe even learn to sing some Finnish songs. It’s up to you! Sail into Finnish summer with this summer vocab list, and you’ll blend in with ease.

Four Adults Playing on the Beach in the Sand

4. Must-Know Autumn vocabulary

Victoria Ericksen said, “If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour,” and I agree. Who can resist the beauty of fall foliage coloring the Finnish landscape? Birds prepare to migrate; travelers prepare to arrive for the best weather in Finland.

The autumnal equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator, making day and night almost equal in length. The cool thing about this event is that the moon gets really bright – the ‘harvest moon’, as it’s traditionally known.

So, as much as the change of season brings more windy and rainy days, it also brings celebration. Whether you honor Thanksgiving, Halloween or the Moon Festival, take some time to color your vocabulary with these Finnish autumn words.

Autumn Phrases

5. Winter

Winter is the time the natural world slows down to rest and regroup. I’m a summer girl, but there are fabulous things about winter that I really look forward to. For one, it’s the only season I get to accessorize with my gorgeous winter gloves and snug down coat!

Then, of course, there’s ice skating, holiday decorations and bonfires. As John Steinbeck said, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” Get ready for the cold season with our list of essential Winter words!

Skier Sitting in the Snow

6. FinnishPod101 can prepare you for any season.

Now that you know how to inquire and comment on the weather in Finland, you
can confidently plan your weather-ready travel itinerary. How about this for an idea: the next
time you’re sitting in a Finnish street café, try asking someone local this question:

“Do you think the weather will stay like this for a few days?” If you loved learning these cool Finnish weather phrases with us, why not take it a step further and add to your repertoire? FinnishPod101 is here to help!

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The Best Finnish TV Series for Finnish Learners to Watch

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Watching TV is a fun way to pick up a new language. While English learners probably have it easier than anyone else due to the massive popularity of shows like The Simpsons and The Game of Thrones, there’s no reason Finnish learners need to miss out! Some of the best Finnish TV series can be streamed online, and whether you’re into romantic comedies or police dramas, you’re sure to find something interesting to watch in our Finnish TV guide.

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Improve Your Finnish by Watching TV Shows
  2. Where to Find Great Finnish TV Shows to Watch
  3. Top Finnish Comedy Shows
  4. Top Finnish Crime Shows
  5. Top Finnish TV Shows for Kids, Teens, and the Young at Heart
  6. Top Finnish Sketch Comedies
  7. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Improve Your Finnish by Watching TV Shows

While nothing is as effective as one-on-one lessons with an experienced Finnish teacher when it comes to learning the language, watching Finnish TV series is a really fun and accessible way to give your studies a real boost. Watching Finnish shows supports your learning by allowing you to get your head around pronunciation, familiarizing you with common sentence patterns, reinforcing key phrases you’ve learned, and expanding your vocabulary as if by magic.

Advanced Finnish learners can completely immerse themselves in the language by watching shows with (or without) Finnish subtitles, while intermediate learners might want to focus first on Finnish TV shows with English subtitles.

Beginners, of course, can also benefit from watching Finnish TV online, but we recommend that you also hone your listening and comprehension skills by watching our fun videos on FinnishPod101’s YouTube channel and listening to our series of audio blogs!

2. Where to Find Great Finnish TV Shows to Watch

  • Netflix: See which Finnish TV series on Netflix are available in your location by typing “Finnish TV shows” into the search box.
  • Prime Video: You can also find Finnish TV shows online using Prime Video by selecting “TV Shows” in categories, then typing “Finnish” into the search box.
  • Yle Areena: It’s possible to stream many Finnish TV shows even outside of Finland on Yle Areena. Find something to watch by selecting ohjelmat (“programs” ) and choosing katsottavissa ulkomailla (“can be watched abroad” ).
  • YouTube: To find Finnish shows to watch on YouTube, try typing suomeksi (“in Finnish” ) in the search box. YouTube is a good place to go for Finnish kids’ shows in particular, so type in lastenohjelmia (“children’s programs” ) when you feel like something light and simple to watch!
  • Other streaming channels: If you’re lucky enough to be based in Finland, you’ll have access to lots of entertaining Finnish TV online! Check out what Finnish TV stations have to offer on Katsomo and Ruutu, for example.

3. Top Finnish Comedy Shows

Finns really love their comedy, and you’re sure to love Finnish comedy too—so get ready to laugh and learn a bunch of new Finnish words at the same time!

1- Luottomies (Wingman)

Wingman is a Finnish comedy TV show about two neighbors whose bad decisions lead them from one catastrophe to another. The show stars Kari Ketonen as the disaster-magnet Juhis, and Antti Luusuaniemi as his neighbor Tommi whose boring and stable life is turned upside-down when Juhis moves next door.

This awkwardly funny TV show, considered one of the more popular Finnish TV shows, has gained recognition outside of Finland, too. In 2019, Season 2 of Wingman was nominated for an International Emmy Award in New York in the Short-Form Series category.

Each episode is only about ten minutes long, which makes this the perfect series to dip into, even if you have very little time! The series is also available with English subtitles, which will be a great help to beginners and intermediate learners.

Vocabulary:

  • naapuri (“neighbor” )
  • asunto (“apartment” )
  • syntymäpäivä (“birthday” )

Stream both seasons of Wingman on Yle Areena.

2- Donna

Also known as Blind Donna, this Finnish romantic comedy-drama is groundbreaking in many ways.

Starring Finnish-Russian actress Alina Tomnikov in the titular role, the show begins with Donna (who is blind) realizing that her partner of eight years has left her. But rather than give into despair, she decides that the time has come for her to find true love—and she isn’t about to let her disability stop her from getting what she wants. Donna goes to nightclubs and tries Tinder, and her best friend Mira (Essi Hellen) tries to help, though her attempts are usually anything but helpful!

This uplifting and stereotype-smashing TV series was awarded the MIPCOM Diversity TV Excellence Award for Representation of Disability in Cannes, and was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Vocabulary:

  • sokea (“blind” )
  • rakkaus (“love” )
  • Se Oikea (“Mr. or Mrs. Right” )

Stream Donna on Yle Areena.

3- Kimmo

Kimmo is another Finnish comedy series featuring a main character that ends up in all sorts of disastrous situations!

Kimmo Hietala (Jussi Vatanen) is thirty years old and doesn’t really know what to do with himself. He’s not interested in working, but struggles to pay his rent and is forced by the job center to take on a telemarketing job. However, there are unexpected consequences, as Kimmo ends up falling in love with Ulla (Pamela Tola / Malla Malmivaara), a bored mother looking for mental stimulation by starting a new job.

This show features several well-known Finnish actors, including Kari Hietalahti and Mikko Leppilampi, and has been awarded two Kultainen Venla Finnish TV awards.

Vocabulary:

  • työpaikka (“position,” “job,” “workplace” )
  • työvoimatoimisto (“job center” )
  • puhelinmyyjä (“telemarketer” )

Man

Stream all three seasons of Kimmo on Yle Areena.

4. Top Finnish Crime Shows

With addictive storytelling and nail-biting cliffhangers, binge-watching Finnish police TV shows and Nordic Noir is the perfect way to combine entertainment with language-learning!

1- Roba

Roba follows the lives of a group of Helsinki Police Department officers. Their differing opinions and ideals cause difficulties and complicate the unit’s efforts to work together effectively.

The name of the show refers to a police station that used to be on Pieni Roobertinkatu or “Roba” (a street in Helsinki). In 2012 (the year the first season aired in Finland), the station was closed.

Many well-known Finnish actors, such as Kari Hietalahti and Tiina Lymi, feature in this drama series.

Vocabulary:

  • poliisiasema (“police station” )
  • konstaapeli (“constable,” “police officer” )
  • todistaja (“witness” )

Stream the first three seasons of Roba on Prime Video.

2- Sorjonen (Bordertown)

The Finnish TV show Bordertown has been called Finland’s first Nordic Noir production. The series follows detective inspector Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen), who solves crimes as the leader of the Serious Crime Unit (SECRI) in the eastern lakeside town of Lappeenranta near the Russian border.

There is also additional drama and tension in Sorjonen’s life as his wife is recovering from brain cancer.

Vocabulary:

  • rikos (“crime” )
  • syöpä (“cancer” )
  • Venäjä (“Russia” )

Stream the first two seasons of the Finnish series Bordertown on Netflix. The show can be streamed with English subtitles.

3- Karppi (Deadwind)

The Finnish TV series Deadwind is a briskly paced and addictive Finnish detective series.

Sofia Karppi (Pihla Viitala) is a homicide detective returning to work at the Helsinki Police Department after her husband’s recent death. Aided by her new work partner, a rookie detective named Sakari Nurmi (Lauri Tiikanen), Karppi juggles crime-solving, grief, and single parenting. In Season 1, what first appears to be a random killing of a middle-aged woman turns out to be something far more complicated and chilling.

The series was well-received in Finland and has been compared to other Nordic Noir hits The Killing and The Bridge.

Vocabulary:

  • murha (“murder” )
  • leski (“widow” )
  • yksinhuoltaja (“single parent” )

Stream the first season of Deadwind on Netflix. The show is available with English subtitles.

5. Top Finnish TV Shows for Kids, Teens, and the Young at Heart

There are plenty of fun Finnish series for younger learners to watch—though there’s no reason why older viewers can’t enjoy them too!

1- Muumilaakso (Moominvalley)

Tove Jansson’s beloved Moomin characters are the reason many people first become interested in Finland! Jansson’s characters have been brought to life once again in a visually-stunning modern animated series, with each episode inspired by an original Moomin story.

The Finnish-British production of Moominvalley premiered early in 2019. The series is available in four different languages, which are Finnish, Swedish, English, and Japanese. The Finnish voice cast includes Joonas Nordman as Moomintroll, Satu Silvo as Moominmamma, and Ville Haapasalo as Moominpappa.

The budget of Moominvalley exceeded 20 million euros, which makes this not only one of the best Finnish children’s TV shows, but also the most expensive Finnish television production ever!

Vocabulary:

  • lohikäärme (“dragon” )
  • tulva (“flood” )
  • viidakko (“jungle” )

Moominvalley Character

Moominvalley is available in Finnish on Yle Areena—though unfortunately, at the moment, you need to be in Finland to stream it!

2- Ihan sama

Ihan sama ( which literally means “the same” and can also be translated as “whatever” ) is an adventurous Finnish TV series designed for viewers over ten years of age. The story focuses on two kids from very different backgrounds: Kasper (Nuutti Konttinen), a star in the making, is trapped in an elite school, while Iida (Vilma Sippola) is a lonely girl abandoned by her parents.

Kasper has seen Iida in his dreams and is shocked to find out that she is actually real. The two become unlikely friends and embark on an adventure together. The series consists of six half-an-hour episodes and shines a light on themes such as forgiveness and the dark side of success.

Vocabulary:

  • uni (“dream” )
  • karata (“to run away” )
  • mysteeri (“mystery” )

Stream Ihan sama on Yle Areena.

3- Justimus esittää: Duo (Justimus Presents: Duo)

Duo is a lively comedy about two awkward teenagers, Samu (Juho Nummela) and Joona (Joose Kääriäinen). The inseparable duo starts to panic as Samu’s mother announces that she’s engaged and the family is moving to another town. Samu and Joona decide to do everything in their power to prevent this catastrophe.

This series was created by the sketch comedy group Justimus, whose YouTube channel is hugely popular in Finland. A record-breaking number of viewers watched the show in its first week.

A word of warning—there’s plenty of coarse language in Duo, so this is not a show for everyone! The characters also speak a dialect of Northern Ostrobothnia, which can make the language a bit harder to understand for beginners and intermediate learners. Try watching the show with Finnish subtitles to make the dialogue easier to follow.

Vocabulary:

  • mennä naimisiin (“to get married” )
  • isäpuoli (“step father” )
  • murrosikäinen (“adolescent” )

Stream Duo on Yle Areena.

6. Top Finnish Sketch Comedies

Woman Eating Popcorn and Watching a Comedy

Did we already mention that Finns love to have a laugh? So it makes sense that sketch comedy is also very popular in Finland. These shows will immerse you in a diverse range of topics and situations—perfect for expanding your Finnish vocabulary!

1- Ihmisten puolue

Ihmisten puolue (“The People’s Party” ) is a political sketch comedy. In each episode, members of the tiny people’s party have a meeting to discuss a topical issue and attempt to come into agreement about their official view on the matter. Needless to say, it’s a struggle!

Each episode is only a few minutes long, but they pack a punch when it comes to learning important vocabulary that you’ll need if you want to read newspaper articles or discuss politics in Finnish.

Vocabulary:

  • kansalainen (“citizen” )
  • ehdokas (“candidate” )
  • vaalit (“elections” )

Stream Ihmisten puolue on Yle Areena’s YouTube channel.

2- Siskonpeti (Pajama Party)

Pajama Party is an award-winning Finnish sketch comedy show written by and starring four female comedians —Pirjo Heikkilä, Niina Lahtinen, Krisse Salminen, and Sanna Stellan—with Joonas Nordman and Jarkko Niemi in male roles.

The title literally means “sister’s bed.” The word describes a large temporary bed that’s placed on the floor with room for several sleepers, which is a common arrangement for sleepovers!

Each episode focuses on a big theme, such as family, love, or death, and features music videos, sketches, and humorous monologues. Some of the themes are relatively mature, so this is not a show for young viewers.

In Finland, the series won the Kultainen Venla Award for the best comedy and sketch show two years in a row. Internationally, the show was nominated for the Rose d’Or Best Comedy Show Award.

Vocabulary:

  • keski-ikäinen (“middle-aged” )
  • parisuhde (“romantic relationship” )
  • äitiys (“motherhood” )

Stream three seasons of Siskonpeti on Yle Areena.

7. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You

Hopefully, you’ve found some TV shows in Finnish that you’re excited to start watching! Through consistent exposure to spoken Finnish, you’ll become more confident in your pronunciation and listening comprehension in no time.

However, unless you’re very advanced in your Finnish studies, watching Finnish TV channels online can sometimes feel a bit like being thrown straight into the deep end! So be sure to keep making full use of FinnishPod101’s language-learning resources too, such as our Finnish-English online dictionary and Finnish word of the day, to solidify your Finnish skills.

What if you come across Finnish phrases and idioms that mystify you while streaming Finnish TV? Our Premium Plus subscription gives you access to a Finnish teacher who’ll be happy to help you! And if you really happen to get into Finnish crime drama or political sketch comedies, our learning program allows you to create handy customized word lists around specific themes—and you can share your lists with others, too.

Go on, have fun, and be sure to share your favorite Finnish TV shows with your fellow learners. And if you ever feel like leaving a comment in Finnish on a YouTube video you’ve watched, check out this list of words first!

Happy Finnish learning!

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