Monday, April 7, 2008

Alcohol and Finns

If I didn’t write about Finnish culture of boozing, I would let a lot of people down. We are well-known of our drinking habits. Reputation goes ahead of us, not always correctly, but that’s only my humble opinion. We drink approximately 10 liters (2.5 US-gallons, 2.2 UK-gallons) pure alcohol per year. That includes infants as well. But it’s not about amount. Finland consumpts less alcohol than for example France yearly. It’s about the habit of drinking.
The trend of amount of consumption is rising. We have been taught that drinking must be social and civilized. We have heard that there is some slightly milder drinks as well, like wine, for example. I think the reason for that may be the fact that we are learning to drink alcoholic drinks more socially. The only tiny problem is, that we haven’t drop the old way, serious boozing. So, the result of alcohol education is that we drink beer and wine on weekdays nice and easy, and on weekends we take ourselves out by drinking two bottles of wodka.

The retailsales of alcohol is delimited to government only. Prohibition in Finland ended 1932 and after that the government have been trying to reduce drinking by extremely aggressive pricing policy. But the Finns found a great way for that; moonshine. Nowadays moonshine is replaced by imported alcohol due to change of regulations after joining EU. The alcohol retailers used to be a little bit scary places, where the clerk was a powerful person. If you couldn’t please him or her, there was a possibility, that this weekend became dry for you. Back in the 70’s and early 80’s the clerk stood behind the counter and customers had to ask for the product they wanted. I have heard some stories about very nervous people practising the pronunciation of foreign product outside the outlet. Today service has changed radically and outlets have very professional advisers and wine specialists.

One of the very Finnish things in drinking is to drink a lot of alcohol before getting in the restaurant. That is because of the very high price of alcohol in restaurants. The idea is get oneselves so drunk already at home, that it becomes unnecessary to drink so much in the bar. Sometimes one happens to drink so much, that the bouncer won’t let him in or the waiter won’t serve anymore. That’s a pity, but you can always go back home to drink more, until you pass out. Now that I write this down, this sounds really stupid.

So, I have now exaggerated our drinking habits and compounded our reputation as non-social idiots. What did you expect?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Great Image of Finland

Finland has been noticed widely in media all around the world lately. That is nice, usually. This time, I'm not too sure about it. For some reason, Finnish people have been acting weird, even more than usually, and it naturally must be seen everywhere.

In Europe we have this yearly organisized rite of humiliation, Eurovision Song Contest. Finland has been attending to it for some 30 years already. Just about whole this time we all agree, that Finnish song are the most terrible pieces of "art" ever. I haven't been able to watch the contest for years now, so embarrassing it has been. And everytime we are happy to get 2 points from Sweden.
That was until 2006. A band was selected as our contestant, Lordi. The band wear masks and they look like monsters. It was different enough to win the contest easily and it really did.

Finland went beserk. Absolutely nuts. We started to think, that we are naturally going to win all the rest Eurovision Song Contests until we will be ruled out because of the superiority. Next year we had to hold the contest. First problem was that the Finnish broadcasting company was broke and the money has to be found from somewhere.
Well, the contest was held in Helsinki. Finnish contestant was 17th, so we were back. We were not even disappointed! This was absolutely like home-coming. Situation was normal again. This year we are going to send our contestant, heavy metal-band Teräsbetoni (Steel Concrete) to Belgrad. We decided to try again with heavy-music. It worked 2006, so it must work this time also. Just a tiny little change for the better, of course, this time the band will be singing in Finnish. (Have you ever heard Finnish language?). The band looks like they would be ready for the Pride Parade with their leather clothes and feathers and they sing high and loud. Maybe that's enough, at least some minority groups could vote for them.

Well, think about our foreign minister. Nicely done, Mr. Kanerva! Nobody told you, that media might be interested about you?
Experienced politician, Ilkka Kanerva, has been a member of parliament since 1975, he has been a minister four times and is considered as true professional, reliable and cautious politician. And then he sends 200 text messages to an erotic dancer (who is planning to publish the messages, naturally). How this never crossed his mind? Media all over Europe has been having fun with that news, and for reason

What about that idiot, that decided to steal a piece of a Moai-statue in Easter Island? Finnish newspaper said, that the person was experienced traveller. Maybe so, but that shouldn't justify to demolish something irreplaceable.
Thank you for making me feel proud of being Finnish!

Actually, when I think about that destroying idiot, the Eurovision Song Contest does not feel so bad anymore...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Such a nice weather!

What a beautiful day! Sunny and snow is melting fast. Spring seems to be arriving, finally. The winter this year have been very "not winterish", though. I'm quite fed up with winter, anyway. I've had some of them already.

I'm not sure, if it's because of the arctic climate or what, but we Finns keep on talking about weather. On and on, just about weather. We are often known of not being able to small-talk, but this has to be an exeption. Sometimes we are forced to get into an elevator with someone we do not know. That must be a Finnish hell! So, how are we going to relief the crushing tension? By talking about weather! Of course! We both may be dripping water, so we have to say: "Rainy." (Yes, really. This is just about the longest phrase, we can produce at that situation.) Like the other person didn't know that! Stupid. I just have to hope, that this happens somewhere else in the globe as well.

I live in the west-coast of Finland. We have a very nice archipelago here and some people still live on the small islands in the middle of the sea. Those people used to observe the weather very closely, it was something they really had to do. But still, we tend to leave the city, travel all the way to archipelago to stay in a small cottage in a small island. And then we start. We start to stare to horizon and wonder, if the rain or the wind is about to emerge. Which direction the wind will blow or is the future rain going to be just a short shower or a hard pouring rain. I even heard once this old fellow to wonder, how much oxygen was in the sea-water. OXYGEN? I can't really get it.

Here will be more to come, about weather, I suppose- I'm finnish.
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