Language learners could well be forgiven for not guessing that the word ‘pig’ might be used as a) an adjective, or b) as a positive. But sika plays an essential role in modern Finnish, being the word that can be used to describe almost anything at any time, with the possible exception of your new girlfriend. Often used in combination with makea (cool), or hauska (fun), the word sika can be dropped into virtually every phrase in every sentence, especially if you are talking to someone below the age of 20. While rarely used in home loan applications or when addressing parliament, no party can be considered fun until the term ‘pig’ has been used extensively to describe it.

With everyone around you discussing nothing but swine flu and pikkujoulu, don’t be surprised if the words etkot and jatkot pop up in quite a few conversations. While the concept of both pre- and after-parties exist in other countries, in few do they play as central a role in events as here in Finland.

Etkot are usually held in someone’s home, at a bar en route from home to a party, or perhaps at some essential halfway point, such as a (licensed) hairdressing salon. They are an opportunity to warm up for proceedings with a glass of bubbles in anticipation of a night in which ...

Here is a new addition to the list of reasons why people decide to move to Finland: by popular vote. An Australian couple currently struggling with the decision whether to move to Finland or stay Down Under is letting random Facebook users decide. Promising to move to Finland if they can muster the support of one million users, they’ve set up a Facebook group that currently boasts 90,000 members.

The social revolution of the 1960s first saw the significance of ladylike manners and etiquette diminishing. Seen as a restriction of freedom of expression, society made it embarrassing to be proud of femininity.

In the 1980s, women’s acceptance into the realms of business sparked “power-dressing” which suggested authority and competence. The rejection of the ideology of acting like ladies in public peaked in the 1990s. Bizarrely, women adopted the behaviour of the men they claimed to be reacting against. An increase in financial independence among women was a clear contributor to the “Ladette” phenomenon.

To the urban population, the issue of protection of wolves tends to be mired between the poles of unflinching support for these ultimate symbols of collective independence and primordial, blind fear of their threat to humankind. In the vastness of Finland’s distant wolf lands, the issue is of a far more mundane reality: their threat to the local economic stakeholders. In Lapland this means the reindeer herders.