World By Shotglass

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011


World By  Shotglass
Chapter 6 :

  • Location : Northern Europe
  • Capital: Helsinki
  • Language: Finnish, Swedish, Saami
  • Population: 5.4 million
  • Total Area: 338,000 km2
  • Currency: Euro
  • Annual average liquor consumption per capita: 9.3 liters per year
  • Annual Beer Consumption Per Capita: 85 liters per year
  • The Most Popular Drink: Punsch, Mead, Lakka, Glögg, Julmust 

  • City
Finland is a Nordic country bordered by Sweden on the west, Norway on the north and Russia on the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.  Finland declared independence from Russia in 1917 and became a republic in 1919.  Its national awakening in the 19th century is summarized well in one succinct and abrupt quote: "We are no longer Swedes, we do not want to become Russians, so let us be Finns".  Helsinki is the capital, with a population of 539,000 but with the little cities around it, it's around 900,000.  While Helsinki is one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and attracts a fair share of tourists, North of Finland boasts the most famous Finish attraction - Santa Claus's office on the Arctic Circle.
  • People
To me, the best way to describe Finns is by explaining the philosophy of sisu that they subscribe to.  It is very unique and very Finnish.  Sisu stands for special strength, persistent determination and resolve to succeed regardless of the circumstances.  One needs sisu to survive Finnish nature, especially in the far north section of Finland where sun does not set for 73 days in summer and does not rise for 51 days during winter.

  • Drinking
It is also hardly surprising that Finns apply sisu to other areas of their life, namely in drinking.  Drinking is not about socializing, it is about getting drunks.  Finns will use all of the perseverance and determination to get there.  Most crimes in Finland are homicides committed by drunken people during weekends.
  • Ice Hole Swimming
Another winter activity and a national hobby is "ice hole swimming".  Finns take dips in a large opening cut through the ice of a frozen lake or a sea.  If this sounds too extreme, you can always just do somersaults in the snow after a hot sauna.  It should be easy enough to find one as there are 2 million saunas in Finland for 5 million residents.
  • Wife Carrying Competition
An unusual sport to indulge in while in Finland is wife carrying.  The sport is thought to have originated in Finland with a famous robber who lived in a forest with his gang of thieves.  Tales get a little blurry, and it is not clear if he used the wife carrying to endurance train his gang or to give them practice in women stealing, but the sport exists to this day and is extremely popular.  Currently, there are two different techniques to carry the wife.  One is over the shoulder, and the other is "Estonian" style with the wife hanging upside-down with her legs around the husband's shoulders, holding onto his waist.  I think this sport has one of the more curious prizes for the winner - wife's weight in beer!  Bottoms up, travelers, in both senses of the word!

Finland Helsinki Aerial View

Finland Helsinki Aleksis Kivi Statue Railway Station Square

Finland Helsinki Botanical Garden

Finland Helsinki Central Station

Finland Helsinki Harbor

Finland Helsinki Harbor View

Finland Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral And Uspenski Orthodox Church

Finland Helsinki Sibelius Monument by Eila Hiltunen

Finland Helsinki Submarine Vesikko At Suomenlinna

Finland Helsinki Suomenlinna Fort

Finland Helsinki Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral

Finland Oulu City Hall

Finland Tampere City Hall

Finland Tarvaspa, Gallen-kallela

Finland Northern Lights Lapland 1

Finland Northern Lights Lapland 2

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