Although written Finnish may be traced back to Mikael Agricola’s translation of the New Testament into Finnish during the Protestant Reformation, few significant works of literature were produced until the nineteenth century and the emergence of a Finnish national Romantic Movement. This inspired Elias Lönnrot to compile and publish Finnish and Karelian traditional poetry as the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic. The period witnessed the emergence of Finnish poets and writers, most notably Aleksis Kivi and Eino Leino. Many national awakening authors, such as national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg and Zachris Topelius, wrote in Swedish.
Following Finland’s independence, there was a surge of modernist authors, most notably Finnish-speaking Mika Waltari and Swedish-speaking Edith Södergran. In 1939, Frans Eemil Sillanpää was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Second World War encouraged a return to more national concerns as opposed to Väinö Linna’s more international school of thinking. Aside from Kalevala and Waltari, the most translated Finnish author is the Swedish-speaking Tove Jansson. Popular contemporary authors include Arto Paasilinna, Ilkka Remes, Kari Hotakainen, Sofi Oksanen, and Jari Tervo, and the Finlandia Prize is given yearly to the finest book.
Visual arts, design, and architecture
The visual arts in Finland began to develop their own features in the nineteenth century, when Romantic nationalism was on the rise in autonomous Finland. Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the most well-known Finnish painter, began in a naturalist style before transitioning to national romanticism. Wäinö Aaltonen, Finland’s best-known sculptor of the twentieth century, is renowned for his colossal busts and sculptures. Timo Sarpaneva, Tapio Wirkkala, and Ilmari Tapiovaara are among the globally recognized Finns who have made significant contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finnish architecture is well-known across the globe, and it has made major contributions to many worldwide styles, including Jugendstil (or Art Nouveau), Nordic Classicism, and Functionalism. Eliel Saarinen and his son Eero Saarinen are two of the most well-known twentieth-century Finnish architects. Architect Alvar Aalto is widely recognized as one of the world’s most influential twentieth-century designers; he helped introduce functionalist architecture to Finland, but quickly became a pioneer in its evolution toward an organic form. Aalto is also well-known for his work in furniture, lighting, fabrics, and glassware, all of which were often integrated into his structures.
Traditional Karelian melodies and lyrics, as found in the Kalevala, have inspired much of Finland’s classical music. Karelian culture is seen as the finest manifestation of Finnic myths and beliefs, with less Germanic influence than the Nordic folk dance music that essentially supplanted the kalevaic tradition. In recent decades, Finnish folk music has seen a roots resurgence and has become a component of mainstream music.
The Sami people of northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway are well renowned for their profoundly spiritual songs known as joik. The same term is often used to apply to lavlu or vuelie tunes, which is strictly wrong.
Fredrik Pacius, a German-born composer, wrote the first Finnish opera in 1852. Pacius also composed the melody for Finland’s national song, Maamme/Vrt land (Our Country). Finnish nationalism centered on the Kalevala grew in the 1890s, and Jean Sibelius became renowned for his vocal symphony Kullervo. He quickly obtained a scholarship to study runo singers in Karelia, and his ascent as Finland’s first famous musician proceeded. In 1899, he wrote Finlandia, which was instrumental in Finland’s independence. He is still one of Finland’s most beloved national personalities and a national emblem.
Today, Finland maintains a thriving classical music industry, and several of the country’s most famous composers, including as Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho, Kalevi Aho, and Aulis Sallinen, are still alive. Esa-Pekka Salonen, Osmo Vänskä, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Leif Segerstam are among the many outstanding conductors accompanying the composers. Karita Mattila, Soile Isokoski, Pekka Kuusisto, Olli Mustonen, and Linda Lampenius are among the globally renowned Finnish classical artists.
Iskelmä is a traditional Finnish term for a light popular song. It is derived straight from the German word Schlager, which means “hit.” Finnish popular music also contains a variety of dancing music; tango, an Argentine music style, is particularly popular. Light music in Swedish-speaking regions is influenced significantly by Sweden. Modern Finnish popular music has a variety of well-known rock bands, jazz musicians, hip hop artists, dance music groups, and so on.
The first major wave of Finnish rock groups formed in the early 1960s, performing instrumental rock influenced by groups such as The Shadows. Beatlemania came in Finland about 1964, fueling the growth of the local rock scene. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Finnish rock artists began to compose their own songs rather than translating foreign successes into Finnish. Some progressive rock bands, such as Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam, earned international acclaim throughout the decade but failed to establish a commercial success outside of Finland. Hurriganes, a rock and roll band, met the same fate. In the 1980s, the Finnish punk movement spawned several globally recognized names, notably Terveet Kädet. Hanoi Rocks were a pioneering 1980s glam rock outfit that influenced American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, among others.
Many Finnish metal bands have achieved worldwide acclaim. HIM and Nightwish are two of Finland’s most well-known worldwide bands. Dark Light, HIM’s 2005 album, was certified gold in the United States. Apocalyptica is a well-known Finnish band best known for combining string-led classical music with traditional heavy metal. Amorphis, Children of Bodom, Impaled Nazarene, Korpiklaani, Sentenced, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Turisas, Finntroll, Ensiferum, Insomnium, Moonsorrow, Wintersun, Poets of the Fall, and Waltari are some more well-known metal bands.
Finland hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007 after the Finnish hard rock/heavy metal band Lordi won the competition in 2006.
Finnish cuisine is renowned for blending traditional rural food and haute cuisine with modern culinary techniques. Traditional Finnish meals from the western portion of the nation include fish and meat, while dishes from the eastern half have historically featured different vegetables and mushrooms. Karelian refugees aided in the production of crops in eastern Finland.
Wholemeal products (rye, barley, oats) and berries are often used in Finnish cuisine (such as bilberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, and sea buckthorn). Milk and its derivatives, such as buttermilk, are often used as food, drink, or in a variety of dishes. Various turnips were popular in traditional cuisine until being supplanted by the potato, which was introduced in the 18th century.
According to data, red meat consumption has increased, although Finns still consume less beef than many other countries and consume more fish and chicken. This is mostly due to the high expense of beef in Finland.
Finland has the highest per capita coffee consumption in the world.
In Finland, a variety of sports activities are popular. The national sport of Finland is pesäpallo, which is similar to baseball, although ice hockey is the most popular sport in terms of spectators. The final game of the 2016 Ice Hockey World Championships, Finland-Canada, was seen by 69 percent of Finnish citizens on television. Athletics, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, football, and basketball are other prominent sports. While ice hockey is the most popular sport in terms of game attendance, association football is the most played team sport in terms of player numbers in the nation and is also the most popular sport in Finland.
Finland is the top performing nation in Olympic history in terms of medals and gold medals earned per population. Finland first competed in the Olympic Games as a separate country in 1908, although being an independent Grand Duchy under the Russian Empire. The three gold medals won by the first “Flying Finn,” Hannes Kolehmainen, in the 1912 Summer Olympics were a source of tremendous pride.
Prior to World War II, Finland was one of the most successful Olympic nations. Finland, a country of just 3.2 million inhabitants at the time, finished second in the medal count at the 1924 Summer Olympics. Finnish long-distance runners dominated the Olympics in the 1920s and 1930s, with Paavo Nurmi winning nine Olympic gold medals between 1920 and 1928 and establishing 22 recognized world records between 1921 and 1931. Nurmi is widely regarded as the best Finnish athlete and one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Finnish male and female athletes have regularly excelled in the javelin throw for over 100 years. Finland has won nine Olympic gold medals, five world championships, five European championships, and set 24 world records as a result of the event.
Long-distance runners Ville Ritola and Lasse Virén; ski-jumpers Matti Nykänen and Janne Ahonen; cross-country skiers Veikko Hakulinen, Eero Mäntyranta, Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi, and Mika Myllylä; rower Pertti Karppinen; gymnast Heikko Savolainen; professional skateboarder Arto Saar Finland is also one of the most successful countries in bandy, having won a Bandy World Championship with Russia and Sweden.
Helsinki hosted the Summer Olympics in 1952. Other significant sports events hosted in Finland include the World Championships in Athletics in 1983 and 2005.
Finland has a long history of figure skating. Finnish synchronized skaters have won eight world championships and thirteen junior world cups, and the country is regarded as one of the finest in the world.
Floorball, Nordic walking, jogging, cycling, and skiing are some of the most popular leisure sports and pastimes (alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and ski jumping). Floorball is the third most popular sport in terms of registered players, behind only football and ice hockey. Floorball is the most popular school, youth, club, and workplace sport in Finland, according to the Finnish Floorball Federation. The overall number of licensed players as of 2016 is 57,400.
Finland’s national basketball squad has gained significant public interest, particularly after the 2014 Basketball World Cup. Over 8,000 Finns traveled to Spain to cheer on their squad. They hired more than 40 aircraft in all.