When living in a multilingual environment you come across cultural differences not only in real life situations but also in words and language.  Words can create layers in languages that are culturally bounded into the society and give meaning to things and concepts.

There are words that can be mysterious in other languages and do not open up easily. These words need deeper understanding and clear explanation in order for us to grasp the meaning. A few of my favourite words that are quite unique in Finnish language are jokamiehen oikeudet, alaistaidot, sininen hetki, lenkkisauna, viileä viilipytty, vilvoittelu, työrauha and työhyvinvointi. These words are known to Finnish speakers, perhaps sininen hetki is known as the blue hour in some countries.  However, the concepts of the words do not necessarily open up to non-Finnish speakers.

Jokamiehen oikeudet

The freedom to roam, or "everyman's right", is an individual’s right to access certain public or privately owned land, forest lakes, and rivers for leisure or exercise in Finland. This right takes place only in Finland to my knowledge. It is not a universal right. Basically, you can wonder about freely in somebody else´s privately owned forest picking up blueberries or mushrooms for free without getting arrested.  In some countries this kind of activity is unheard of and you would most likely end up locked up, or a heavy fine to pay, if not killed by the landowner. So, Finns are really lucky to have this right and freedom to roam without getting into trouble.

Sininen hetki

Such a beautiful serene moment, just when the sun is setting, between dusk and darkness. I think it is most beautiful in the winter months when there is snow, and the landscape and light actually do turn blue. That is when the world seems very calm and safe. Almost magical. It´s always over too soon, and you never catch that perfect photo of it. However, it can be a very romantic time of the day.


This is an interesting word that I have come across. The English translation would be something like ”skills of being an employee´”. It sounds very strange in English and makes me puzzled, but alaistaidot I do understand. However, in Finnish it means one knows their duties and rights as an employee, as well as obligations within the company. The skills of being an employee means it is one’s responsibility to contribute to the working environment, the atmosphere, equality in the workplace, follow work ethics as well as being a team player. I have also heard someone say it means that you know your place within the company. Part of alaistaisdot means you are able to function independently and take responsibility for what you do or don’t do.


This is actually the best part of the whole sauna experience. A saunajuoma goes together with this ritual. After vilvoittelu one is left relaxed, leave enough time for your body to adjust to your body temperature. This experience can have a very holistic meaning for your mind, body, and spirit as well as the soul.


The weirdest thing ever in connection to keeping fit. A communal sauna experience that takes place every week in thousands of saunas. No pre-exercise is actually required. Just another excuse to enjoy the heat of the sauna. Then of course you have lauantaisauna, joulusauna, savusauna, hyörysauna, morsiussauna, juhannussauna, saunailta and so on.

So, living in Finland can be fun. It has a lot of benefits that we might take for granted. Lifestyle choices as well as our environment contribute to our wellbeing directly, it is worth making the right choices. Finnish language can be fun. You can play around with the words and make new words. Words can make the culture richer.

 As I often use my jokamiehen oikeudet in the forest by picking up berries and mushrooms I can also go jogging, cycling or canoeing in the nature. If I build up a sweat, I can go to lenkkisauna after my daily activities. If I am lucky enough I can do my vilvoittelu while the sininen hetki is on. All this healthy living also contributes directly to my työhyvinvointi and helps me work in balance and adds to my alaistaidot.  What more could one ask for.


Dwayne Woodroffe

Väkivaltatyön asiantuntija

Expert In Domestic Violence Intervention Work

Lyömätön Linja Espoossa ry