How the Finnish epic Kalevala inspired an American secret society

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Secret handshakes, arcane rituals, and covert political favors—mysterious secret societies operating in the shadows have intrigued people for centuries. Even today, there’s no shortage of conspiracy theories involving high-profile organizations such as the Freemasons and the Illuminati. But in the earlier days of the United States, secret societies were a practical way for groups of people, often immigrants, to form bonds with others and take measures to protect their livelihoods in a time before social security.

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These haunting pictures will help you understand Finnish loneliness

We’ve arrived at the time of the year when us Finns hibernate in our homes. Summer is for having fun with friends, winter is for closing the doors and listening to your morbid thoughts, perhaps interspersed by the odd melancholic Schlager. It’s too dark outside to see anyone anyway, so why bother trying?

Ghost bridge

Ghost bridge

Fortunately, for many of us, this hibernation is self-imposed, but according to research, one in ten Finns suffers from chronic loneliness. While Finnish people don’t consider themselves any more lonely than their Southern European counterparts, their loneliness more often includes poverty, alcoholism and depression. Professor Nina Junttila from the University of Turku sees this as a result of weaker inter-family relationships. “In Spain and Italy, for example, relatives are very close. In Finland, family bonds are weak and people tend to seek help from friends. Those who have no friends will be left out,” she recently told the Kodin Kuvalehti women’s magazine.

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Meet the Finnish woman who graduated by hanging out on Reddit for a year

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RedditGirlA 26-year-old Finnish woman, Salla Koivu, has taken hanging out on Reddit to a whole new level of dedication. And in the process gained her Master’s degree. Salla, a Helsinki native and a graduate from Aalto University School of Business decided the best way to complete her thesis on Why do people share online? was to hang out on Reddit for an entire year. Eager to find our more about this genius plan to legitimately mess around on the internet, we hooked up with her to find out what inspired her to go undercover and what she discovered about one of our all time favourite websites.

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A world-first interview with the creator of Finnish Nightmares, Finland’s funniest new cartoon series

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Every country has its national stereotypes. Brits are overly polite and adore tea. Americans love burgers and guns. The Finns are no different. They have certain characteristics, which set them apart from other people. This, of course, means they also have certain dreams and certain nightmares. To showcase the later, one talented digital media pro from Northern Finland, Karoliina Korhonen has this week launched a brand new cartoon series, Finnish Nightmares. The idea which started, she says, as nothing more than a “brain fart” is to present the most awkward social situations a stereotypical Finn can encounter. The results, though, are hilariously accurate. So much so that her Facebook page has gone from zero to over 25000 likes in just 48 hours.

At Ink Tank, we know a viral phenomenon in the making when we see it. So, despite the fact she had just 287 followers when we discovered her work, we were quick to get in contact to find out more about her cartoons, her inspiration, and her own Finnish nightmares. Now, we’re happy to be able to share this exclusive, world-first interview with the woman herself. Here’s what she had to say.

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6 Finnish bad habits that should be banned immediately

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Us Finnish people have a good excuse. It’s not so long ago we lived in the isolation of the forest, so it’s understandable if we’re yet to master textbook social skills, or we forget the little pleasantries that sweeten urban coexistence. Yet, I think we have a few national traits we can no longer get away with if we want to survive in this increasingly international and interactive world. I believe that these six quintessentially Finnish bad habits should be instantly banned and banished back into those forests (ok, no zebra crossings in the forest, but you get my point).

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This immigrant might just have filmed the most Finnish summer video ever

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Open the paper today in Finland and, as in much of Europe, the likelihood is you’ll find a story about immigration. One underlining theme, which seems to be hammered home with disturbing regularity, is the idea that us immigrants are a burden upon society. This is despite the huge amounts of evidence to the contrary. In fact, and I’m living proof, research shows immigrants are net financial contributors to the countries in which they live. But immigrants enrich societies in many other ways, too.




Take talented filmmaker Leandro Righini, a South African immigrant, who has made Finland his home for the last ten years. A Creative Director at Make Films  he’s spent the last decade making beautiful short movies for countless companies. Now, he’s crafted a wistfully beautiful video about summer cottage life that might just be the most Finnish video ever. If you don’t believe us, take a look for yourself. But first let’s hear more from the man himself, about his inspiration and his love for super Suomi. 

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Elsa from Frozen

This Finn brought Disney heroes to life. They’re even more gorgeous than on film.

When graphic designer Jirka Väätäinen from Kuopio, Finland, first started his project on what Disney characters might look like in real life, he didn’t expect anyone to see them.

“One day, back in 2011, I just got this idea to entertain and challenge myself by reimagining Ursula in a more realistic way,” Väätäinen says. “It was fun so I did the same with a few other characters and posted them on the blog that I kept for my university studies.”

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Ursula from The Little Mermaid

The rest is history. Someone stumbled upon his real life Disney characters and shared them, creating an online phenomenon. This year, inundated with requests for more, Väätäinen published a collection of Disney hunks. It has been viewed by literally millions of people.

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China Swedes, Forest Finns and The Great Migration: How Finnish immigrants helped build America

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Currently in Finland, like elsewhere in Europe, we’re hearing much about immigration and how challenging it is for new arrivals to integrate into society. Finns themselves, of course, have a long history of leaving Finland to live elsewhere. Sometimes, as refugees from war or famine, other times to simply try and make a better life for themselves and their families. One popular destination was the United States, so let’s take a quick look at how Finns fared in the New World and how well they settled into life far away from home.

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Police confirmed the presence of 30 - 40 protesters opposing the arrival of asylum seekers in Lahti. One of them wore the robes of the white supremacist movement the Ku Klux Klan.

Finnish Ku Klux Klan clown needs to read his history. The Klan hated Finns too.

In the late evening of September 24, the vile reactions to refugees in small towns around Finland took a quick turn for the absurd… at least in the eyes of those who know their history.

Finland’s public service broadcaster YLE reports that a bus transporting 49 mostly middle eastern asylum seekers were met by a group of 30-40 individuals protesting their arrival. The mob launched fireworks at the bus and later threw rocks at Red Cross workers operating the gates of the refugee center. As picked up by international media by now, one of these clowns wore an improvised Kuu Klux Klan outfit, of all things.

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