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Studying and Living in Finland LUT Alumni Experience by Aisulu Harjula

Finnish Family Values

Home is a holy place. Finns stay close to their families and family ties are strong. Finns love their homes and even prefer spending their holidays at home. Nowadays many Finns do not hurry up with getting their own family and postpone marriage decisions. It is typical for a Western culture – some people get married only after they get children, others don’t get married but get children.

However, I think that Finnish men are great husbands and fathers. They take care of housework and attend the child birth in the hospital with their wives, and take care of their babies, families and children.

One day I saw a young man sitting in the lobby of our university and playing with his newborn baby. He took the baby into his hands and raised the baby above. He really enjoyed it a lot. Not all men in the world do that but Finns do.

A funny “tradition”

One quite funny tradition I’ve heard on a Finnish course (which is more like a stereotype behavior perhaps, not really a tradition) is that at a time when a child is born, a new father proudly goes to a bar with his friends to celebrate while his wife is in the hospital with the newborn. This is the way he shares his proudness and happiness among friends and becomes a “real man”. I’m not sure how true it is. My husband was with me in the hospital when our son was born and he takes a lot of care of us.

When to show a baby

As a person from a different culture I find it a bit strange that in Finland people can post pictures of their newborns in Facebook openly or take a newborn to a supermarket. Also as I know newborn babies might be kept alone in their room since the very first days. In Kazakhstan parents don’t show a baby to the world the first forty days after birth. Only close relatives and friends can pay a visit. This is a way to help the recently born baby to adapt to the new environment that is stressful to him/her and protect from diseases that might come from outside. Then after 40 days the first family celebration takes place, it is called Kyrkynan Shygaru and it is child’s first public appearance. A traditional ritual is bathing of the baby by women with 41 spoons of water.

At Kyrkynan Shygaru we offered to guests a traditional dish – manty (meat dumplings)

Baptism

Finnish children usually get baptized. A pope baptizes the baby and gives him/her their name(s). From this day on the baby has an official name and belongs to the Evangelist-Lutheran church. The baby will have a church tax (which is around 1-2% of gross income) in future. Nowadays many baptized young people sign out of church in order to avoid paying taxes to the church. In turn, this means that they can’t use church’s services such as baptizing their own children. In this case they register the baby’s name in the Finnish register office.

Baptism of our son. The baby is in Finnish christening dress.

In Kazakhstan, babies receive their name officially in the hospital – there is a simple document from the hospital with the baby’s name, parent’s name and date of birth. This document has a big power and serves as a prove of parenthood.

About The Author

Researcher at LUT, Master of Economics, LUT & GSOM Saint Petersburg State University. Focus on Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability. Background in natural sciences.

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