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Young man jumping into icy lake, like it was summer. Photo in Asikkala, Finland.

The impossible contrast: Young photographer drops summer-like scenes into freezing Finnish winter

Young man stuck with rowboat in snow on icy lake, Asikkala, Finland.

At the time of writing, it’s rather cold, around -20°C, here in Helsinki. To make this a bit less insufferable, let’s enjoy some summery pictures. Almost.

Sixteen-year-old, award-winning photographer Markus Watkins has just published a very timely set of summer activities set in freezing cold Asikkala. We asked some questions about his set, which he named The Impossible Contrast.

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Kippis! The strange history of Finland’s love affair with alcohol

Finlandia Vodka, photo by Vicente Villamón

 

Finns have always had an unusual relationship with alcohol. As far back as the 18th century, the French enlightenment philosopher Montesquieu referred to Finns as heavy drinkers. Doubtlessly, this contributed to prohibition introduced by Sweden in 1756. Prohibition ended under Russian Imperial rule, but it was still against the law to make moonshine at home. However, lobbying for complete prohibition remained popular among all kinds of busybodies.

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16 photos that show just how much Helsinki has changed in the last 100 years

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You only have to wander around Helsinki on a summer’s day to see why it’s regularly listed as one of the world’s most livable cities. But it hasn’t always been that way. When King Gustavus Vasa of Sweden founded it in 1550 it was so unpopular he had to order the burghers of Rauma, Ulvila, Porvoo and Tammisaari to move there. The city didn’t grow much for the next few hundred years either. Even when it was finally declared the capital in 1812 the population was still less than 5000. At the same time, London was home to 1.2 million people. So, it’s really only since the start of the 20th century that Helsinki has become the city we all know and love. To celebrate this magnificent transformation, and to enjoy the fact we live in the Helsinki of the future, let’s take a peak at Helsinki of the past, courtesy of some marvellous pictures by photographers such as Ismo Hölttö and Jouko Leskinen.  Read more

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8 Very Finnish Problems that show how much Finns love sauna

Think of Finland and it’s likely one of the first things that comes to mind is sauna. Hardly surprising when you consider the country has 3 million of the steamy rooms and that, for centuries, Finns used the sterile environment for everything from personal hygiene and births, to cooking, and of course, relaxation. Now, just when you thought this adoration couldn’t get any more intense along comes Helsinki Sauna Day. This unique event opens the doors to private saunas, citywide, for everyone to enjoy. In homage to an awesome idea, we’ve got together with Finland’s favourite Facebook page, Very Finnish Problems, to showcase exactly why Finns are so set on the delights of sauna.

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Meet Timo Wilderness: Finland’s favorite swamp wrestling vlogger

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Recognise the face above? If you’re a Finn, with a social media account, the answer is probably a resounding yes! Timo Korpi, perhaps better known as Timo Wilderness, is one of Finland’s most popular vloggers. Browse his YouTube channel and you’ll find an eclectic mix of English-language travel diaries from around the globe, fun bits and skits, and his popular series, WTF – Welcome to Finland, which explores various aspects of Finnish life.

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How to talk about work and leisure like a Finn: A step-by-step guide for expats

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It’s a common belief among Finns that it’s not possible to fully relax and forget about your work if your vacation is shorter than the famous four weeks. The most usual and traditional summer holiday month is July. Nothing moves in July. Even if you work in July, you cannot get anything done, because except for you, there is nobody around. Little birds have told me a great strategy to have an eight-week holiday: keep on working in July (read: pretend) and take your four-week holiday in August. Feeling relaxed? Yes! And a little guilty? Of course not! Somebody has to work in July to answer e-mails and calls to say there is nobody working at the moment and you can’t really do anything about anything. You have sacrificed yourself for the good of the community.

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In pics: 20 000 Finns take to the streets to protest against racism and fascism

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In the last year, when it comes to immigration, Finland has made international headlines for all the wrong reasons – from idiotic, right-wing vigilantes prancing around the streets to racist greetings made to families fleeing the horrors of the Syrian civil war. Happily, that all changed this weekend when more than 20,000 people marched in Helsinki to protest against racism and violence. Prompted by the death of a man attacked during a neo-Nazi Finland’s Resistance Movement rally earlier this month, the march organised by Peli Poikki (Stop this game!) received huge worldwide coverage.

“Enough is enough. We have a right-wing government, including the racist Perus party, doing nothing about the fascists. How many more people do they have to kill before the government stamps them out? That is why I am here,” said a demonstrator, Jari Laine.

One man joining Laine and the 20,000 strong demonstration was Miemo Penttinen, a photographer and the Co-founder of the mobile learning app company Funzi. His photos below give a fantastic insight into a march, which looks set to change the political discourse in a country where the far-right has been given free reign for far too long.

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Simply Suomi: 5 everyday delights that make Finland fantastic

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We all know that Finland is very high on the list in the international rankings on education, freedom of press, equality and social security. For example, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report, Finland is the 6th happiest country in the world, and Helsinki ranks 3rd on the 2016 Metropolis Magazine most liveable cities list. We live in a wonderful place. Let’s embrace it!

Lists and rankings are a great thing, but what about personal experience? My expat years made me think about my Finnish happiness from a different, everyday-life perspective. There are four things that make life in Finland better than anywhere else: simplicity, design, functionality and access to nature. To understand what I mean, here is a list of five everyday things I really missed while living away from home.

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