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Beat the Winter Blahs With These Wacky Finnish Traditions

Finnish winter tradition Keweenaw Coffee Works Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula

We'll be honest...

As much as we love winter, there are times when the view outside our windows starts to have the same effect as white noise. Not bad; just blah.

If we could curl up in our beds and pull the covers over our heads (with a thermos of hot coffee nearby, naturally), we'd definitely be doing it by the end of February.

But since Keweenaw life doesn't stop on account of a little (or a LOT) of snow, it's time to look for something stronger to keep us going through. This winter weariness calls for creativity, for risk-taking, for sisu like you've never seen it before.

For that, we look to the Finns.

Finnish winter tradition Keweenaw Coffee Works Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula

Though they're known for a stoic temperament, the Finnish have a secret silly streak. Our cousins across the pond tell us that the Finns are known throughout Scandinavia as the "weird ones." And considering some of their customs (national sports like wife carrying and boot throwing, special "party pajamas" for college weekends, naked saunas with total strangers), it's really no wonder.

But it's in the darkest depths of winter that Finnish foolery really reaches an all-time high. Don't believe us? Keep reading for some of the craziest Finnish winter traditions we've discovered.

After rigorous testing over the past several weeks, we can vouch for these techniques as safe, effective, and wildly wacky methods for beating the winter blahs.

Tell Your Fortune

Finnish winter tradition Keweenaw Coffee Works

Bored of board games? Over the ouija board? Try your hand at tinanvalanta, a Finnish New Year tradition that involves melting a piece of tin over a stove or fireplace, then thrwoing the soft metal into a bucket of cold water. Once the tin has hardened, hold it up between a lit candle and a wall. The shadow it makes is believed to predict your future in the coming year. While certain shapes and textures have some traditional interpretations (e.g., the shape of a horse means you'll get a new car), we think it's a lot more fun to make up your own meaning. Think of it as mad libs in 3-D! 

Pro tip: To avoid burned fingers (or worse), we recommend using melted candle wax instead of metal.

Shred Your Face Off

Finnish winter tradition air guitar Keweenaw Coffee Works Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula

Though famously unflappable in the face of challenge, Finns are far from emotionless. Rather than show it publicly, however, they channel their emotions into hard rock and heavy metal music. And when no concerts or dance parties are on offer, the Finns turn to ilmakitara, or air guitar. There's even an annual festival in Northern Finland where would-be musicians from over 20 countries come to showcase their imaginary shredding skills. Go on--we dare you. Turn down the lights, take a swig of kossu (or your favorite Upper Peninsula beer), and unleash your inner Hendrix.

Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere

Finnish winter tradition sauna coffee Keweenaw Coffee Works Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula

Finns are known the world over for their dedication to coffee. (They actually consume more coffee than any other nation on earth...not bad for a country the size of California!) The day starts with aamukahvi (morning coffee) and moves on to païväkahvi (day coffee) or, if you're on the job, työpaikkakahvi (workplace coffee), to be followed by some iltakahvi (evening coffee) once you're home again. Out shopping at the market? Get some torikahvi. Special occasion? Must be time for kahvipöytäkahvi. But our favorite has to be saunakahvi...which, naturally, is coffee enjoyed while taking a sauna. Naked or not naked--we'll leave that up to you.


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