After falling in love with a Finnish woman, I fell just as deeply in love with her country and culture and learned that the Finns are a complex and beautiful breed.
One side of the Finnish personality is reserved and shy, yet the other mirrors that of a 1960’s Californian hippy; a lover of nature with a burning desire to be free.
Keen to understand this interesting dual personality, I did some research and chose three reasons why Finland may be the freest nation in the world.
1. It’s OK to be naked in Finland
The Finnish attitude to the naked body is often a source of childish giggles and naughty jokes to a foreigner upon their first visit to the sauna. At least it was for me.
Where most of the world view the naked body as sexual and sometimes a bit funny, the Finns are more grown up, which is thanks to their national love of saunas.
And I mean a LOVE of saunas.
As ninety-nine percent of the Finnish population visit one of the nation’s 3.3 million hot and steamy hubs of relaxation at least once a week, finding a place to embrace your nakedness in Finland is as easy as finding a mushroom in Moomin Valley.
The sauna is a non-sexual and spiritual ancient Finnish institution, where nakedness is encouraged. Enjoyed by all generations as a way of relaxing and bonding with friends, family, and even workmates, the sauna is not the place to start worrying about your appearance.
But I must warn you that going ice swimming after a sauna session may make you and your partner more “heated.”
So, on your next visit to Finland, take your shorts off, be at one with yourself and let it all hang free. It does the soul good!
2. The Finnish Education System Benefits Everyone
Imagine meeting someone who started school late in life, did very little homework after short school days, and only had to study for one standardised test.
It sounds like a free and fun childhood, but that person must have limited career opportunities as a result, right?
Finnish educators ensure every child reaches a basic proficiency in a subject, regardless of their ability. Ensuring that all children are treated as equal has helped Finland create the smallest gap between the achievement of rich and poor students in the world.
Combine this teaching method with the high standard of education required to become a teacher in Finland, and it’s easy to see why the Finnish education system is ranked among the best in the world.
3. A Summer Cottage Isn’t a Luxury
In a country where 80 percent of the land is covered in forest and contains 180,000 lakes, a beautiful natural view is never far away.
With over half a million traditional summer cottages dotted around the Nordic wilderness, Finns use them to escape the hustle and bustle of towns and cities and to be at one with nature.
Swapping the stress of work for long walks, light Summer nights and good food, many Finns report a visit to their summer cottage leaving them feeling rejuvenated and free to think about life.
So, if you’re looking to set your spirit free, come to Finland, get naked and fall in love with nature again. We’re easy to find, just travel North and turn right of Sweden. If you start seeing pictures of Putin’s face, you’ve gone too far.