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Packing in for Finland? A Practical

The Finnish word for the sun. Our planet earth (maa in Finnish) circulates the sun. In the winter, the night can last for more than 24 hrs in the northernmost parts of Finland (Polar night, Polar twilight) but in the summer, the sun stays above the horizon for more than 24 hrs. Perhaps you have heard of the Midnight Sun?

Aurora Borealis
see Northern Lights


are a type of footwear that protects and covers the feet, ankles and even legs from cold, moisture and other possible hazards. Boots are highly recommended in Finland during the wintertime. It is important to choose the right type and material. Quite possibly the best boots to keep your toes warm are made of leather and have a lining (preferably wool or some other insulating material). Layering socks is also a good idea.


or centigrade scale is used to measure temperature. It is named after its inventor, a Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701-1704). One measurement unit on this scale is called 1 degree Celsius (1°C). Some important points on the Celsius scale are the freezing point of water (±0°C) and the boiling point of water (+100°C) at a pressure of one standard atmosphere. Our normal body temperature is between +36° and +37°C. During our symposium time the outdoor temperature will most probably be several degrees below ±0°C.

A piece of protective clothing used mainly outdoors to cover the upper part of the body. There are different coats for various purposes. When visiting Finland during the winter, choose a coat that is made of warm, insulating material and is windproof in possible.

is a relative concept. Our experience of cold depends on the context and the circumstances. “Cold” coffee can be several degrees warmer than the “warm” water in the swimming pool. The temperature of a warm room would make a cold sauna. As a rule of thumb, the following temperatures are usually regarded as being cold:
                             Indoor  temperatures below +16°C
                             Water temperatures (swimming or shower) below +18°C
                             Outdoor temperatures below +10°C

Draft, wind and moisture can considerably increase our sensation of coldness. So, is Finland a cold place now? Outdoors it certainly is. You can probably see your breath. Indoors, however, it should be nice and warm. Long sleeved items should suffice. Often times, people also wear different shoes for outdoor and indoor activities/purposes.

The winter is dark in Finland, and you wouldn't probably expect to need sunglasses, but you do. Especially in February and March, when the days are already getting longer, the combination of sunshine and the white sparkling snow can be extremely intense and even harmful for the eyes.


East Finland
Home of the University of Eastern Finland. The region is home for several distinct dialects of Finnish such as itäinen savolaismurre (“Eastern Savonian”). See and

or Eurasian elk or moose or Alces alces (lat.) all refer to the largest member of the deer family (Cervidae). In Finnish this animal is called hirvi. A great creature and a great word for a linguist perhaps but though not aggressive to humans, elks crossing the streets and highways are a real traffic risk in Finland and cause many serious car accidents every year. Watch out for this large mammal when driving. Watch out for them especially in the dawn, in the evening and whenever you see this traffic sign:


is a temperature scale developed by Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1676). Its unit, 1 degree Fahrenheit (1 F°) corresponds to 5/9 degrees Celsius. The freezing point of water on the Fahrenheit scale is +32 F° and the boiling point of water is +212 F°, at a pressure of one standard atmosphere. At the point of -40 degrees the Celsius scale and the Fahrenheit scale intersect each other. This means that -40 C° is exactly as cold as -40 F°. Temperatures that low are not common in Joensuu in February but not entirely impossible either.

This old name of Roman origins refers to the second month of the year. It is also the month in which the Crossling Symposium is held. There is no such thing as typical weather for February in Finland. The conditions may vary a great deal. Extreme temperatures such as -20°C are not uncommon. Especially with a strong wind blowing from North-East, this can be very unpleasant. On the other hand, the sun may shine pleasantly and therefore, Finns often consider February as the ideal month for skiing, skating and other winter activities.

is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north and Russia to the east, while Estonia lies to the south across the Gulf of Finland. The Republic of Finland has ca. 5,4 inhabitants, is a highly industrialized mixed economy and has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, of which Finnish is the dominant language. The Sami language is an official language in the Northern Lapland, and Finnish Romani and Finnish Sign Language are also recognized in the constitution.

to Freeze
Scientists often talk about freezing when water turns into ice or any other liquid reaches its solid form because of a low temperature. In an everyday context, however, we often speak about freezing in a more metaphorical way when we experience the discomfort of being exposed to low temperatures. Frost bites may occur. Keep yourself warm! Dress in layers, wear a hat and gloves.

is a weather condition where the outdoor temperature is lower than ±0°C or +32°F. Joensuu natives call temperatures between ±0°C and -5°C a mild frost. When the sun is shining and there is no wind, this is considered as a lovely weather. A moderate frost is something like -5°C― -12°C and temperatures down to -20° may be called real frost. Even such conditions can be quite pleasant if there is very little wind and some sunshine but a cold breeze from the North-East (see: Siberia) makes it rather brutal. People from southern parts of Finland might call this kind of weather a hard frost. Joensuu natives, however, only call temperatures below -20°C that.

are fundamental when you visit Finland during the winter. They are needed to protect your hands and fingers from the harsh weather. Consider layering again. If you know you get cold easily, mittens are your best choice.


is a piece of clothing that is worn upon one’s head. This can be done for several cultural reasons like showing ones social rank or status in a certain group. The reason for wearing a hat in Finland during the winter months though is pure common sense. The styles and types vary. Preferably, choose a type of hat that covers your ears. Instead of a hat also shawls, scarves or earmuffs can be used.

холодный (holodnyj)
The Russian word for 'cold'. Also borrowed to eastern Finnish dialect: holotna.


is the solid form of water (H₂O). Icy drinks are naturally favored in the summer but in the winter, Finns may go ice hole fishing or even ice hole swimming. Refreshing!


may not be enough to keep you warm in the Finnish winter. They are usually lighter and less insulated than coats. 

is the Finnish word for 'coffee'. Finns drink more coffee than anyone else in the world, approximately 12 kilograms of raw coffee per person per year. Finns favor light roast and decaffeinated coffee may be hard to come by. However, most coffee drinks are readily available. Tea lovers, do not despair! Most places serve tea as well.

Kalevala Day
is celebrated on the first CROSSLING Symposium day, on 28 February. It marks the anniversary of the publication of Kalevala which is the national epic of Finland (see It is a work of epic poetry and was compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology. The first version was published in 1835.

is a practical and a trendy way to make your own mittens and beanies. It takes some time though, so if you have no previous experience, you may want to start this hobby after the conference. Local knitted items make wonderful souvenirs!

is a fabulous national park near Joensuu, and has inspired many artists and writers. More information in Wikipedia:


is the Finnish word for snow. Finns have several words for describing different kinds of snow but there is no verb in Finnish to express the event of snowing like ‘to snow’_in English or ‘_snöa’ in Swedish. Instead, snowing is expressed via the syntactic expressions ‘sataa lunta’ [precipitate snow.PARTITIVE] or ‘tulee lunta’ [come snow.PARTITIVE].

are gloves made of warm material like wool or fur. While gloves have coverings for each of the four fingers and the thumb, mittens only have a covering for all of the fingers, and one for the thumb. If you do not own mittens, consider buying a pair of them on the location for your own comfort.

Northern Lights
are also known as Aurora Borealis and are a natural light display in the sky particularly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions during the winter months. Though not as vivid and striking as in Lapland, The Northern Lights may be seen in Joensuu area also on very cold and clear winter nights. See, for example, the photos taken by Rami Saarikorpior

(Quercus robur) grows only in Southern and Western parts of Finland. In Joensuu region you can mainly see pinetrees, firs and birches.

means ‘apple’ and is a lovely snack that gives you energy and vitamins on those cold winter days. Hot cider is not common in Finland, coffee is. A few places, however, serve ‘glögi’ which is a warm non-alcoholic spiced drink made of apples and berries. It is especially popular during Christmas time.


Polar bear
(Ursus Maritimus). Contrary to any information you might have received, this endangered species does not live in Finland or even near Finland except in the Ranua Zoo, located about 500 km North from Joensuu. Brown bears (Ursus Arctos) are found in Finland but hibernate until late spring.

might be a necessary piece of clothing while traveling in Finland any time of the year.

Please do not hesitate to contact the conference organizers for any questions or concerns that you may have.

According to a national stereotype the Finns are quite quiet. Some noisy individuals, however, have been shown to exist as well.

is a small object that reflects the light. Finns often attach reflectors of various shapes in their winter outfits in order to be visible to the approaching cars at the dark. NB! It is possible that you will find a reflector in your conference folder.

(Rangifer Tarandus) is a species of deer (Cervidae) that lives in the Arctic areas of the Northern hemisphere. Finland is famous for its reindeers even they are not found in the Joensuu region but in Lapland only. Reindeer meat, however, may be available in the largest stores. The Finnish name for reindeer is 'poro'.

is a long, rectangular piece of clothing that is used to protect one’s neck and throat from draft and cold. Recommendable when visiting Finland in the winter.

is the vast North-Eastern part of Russia. Siberian winds reach Finland easily and may blow during you stay in Finland. Cover you self against the harsh North-East wind. Be sure to wear some warm clothes!

when icy. Be aware of the icy conditions of the roads and streets.

The winter is relatively long in Finland, and usually there is plenty of snow. Finns have several words for describing different kinds of snow but there is no verb in Finnish to express the event of snowing like ‘to snow’ in English or ‘snöa’ in Swedish. Instead, snowing is expressed via the syntactic expressions ‘sataa lunta’ [precipitate snow.PARTITIVE] or ‘tulee lunta’ [come snow.PARTITIVE]. In this respect, there are similarities with Russian and Korean in which 'to snow' is conceptualized as movement. Russian: Idët sneg (snow goes) ’it is snowing’. Korean: nwuni onta (snow comes) ’it is snowing’.

are essential. The thicker the better.

is the Finnish word for 'winter'.

Thermal or long underwear is the key if you want to survive the coldest winter days. Please note that even if the indoors may be comfortably warm, the outdoors is not. Layering is sensible.

are strongly advised for outings and outdoor activities. Indoors, the clothing of your choice should be fine.

is a definitely a personal matter, of course, but it would be wise to pack some warm items. See thermal for underwear.

is the Finnish verb for ‘to enjoy oneself’ and naturally, we hope that you feel welcome in Finland and enjoy the conference atmosphere to the most. We are happy to have you here!

is a wonderful word, ‘lämmin’ in Finnish. It’s opposite is ‘cold’, ‘kylmä’.

makes low temperatures even lower. Consider the wind chill factor especially during the colder days.

is the name for the cold season of the year. The Finnish winter begins in November and turns slowly into spring during the month of April. The winter is longer in northern Finland and shorter in the south.

A natural material obtained from the sheep. People have used wool for ages to prepare warm clothing.

A word we use to refer to the outdoor conditions like the temperature, wind, humidity, and others. A very common topic for small talk in Finland. Fascinating weather expressions in and across languages has been studied for example by the CROSSLING member Leena Kolehmainen together with a Finnish-Norwegian research team:

  • Eriksen, Pål; Kittilä, Seppo & Kolehmainen, Leena (2010): The Linguistics of weather: Cross-linguistic patterns of meteorological expressions. In: Studies in Language 34: 3, 565-601.
  • Eriksen, Pål K., Kittilä, Seppo & Kolehmainen, Leena (2012): Weather and language. In: Language and Linguistics Compass 6: 6, 383-402.
  • Eriksen,Pål. K., Kittilä,Seppo & Kolehmainen,Leena (accepted): The world is raining: Meteorological predicates and their subjects. To appear in: Marja-Liisa Helasvuo & Tuomas Huumo (eds.): Canonical and non-canonical subjects in constructions. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins (Constructional Approaches to Language), 25 pp.

    You can check the current weather in Finland here:

Xerocomus badius 
 or Polish mushroom, ruskotatti in Finnish, grows in the Joensuu region whose forests are famous for their lovely mushrooms. In good crop years the ceps are even transported to Italy.

is a sugar alcohol sweetener and widely researched in Finland. It is safe for diabetics and good for your teeth. The letter X, however, is rarely found in Finnish words.

A very important Finnish word meaning ‘one’. Yksi kahvi, kiitos ”a coffee please”, yksi olut, kiitos ”a beer please”.

Zero degrees of Celcius (±0°C) is the freezing point of water. In the Eastern Finnish dialects an outdoor temperature of ±0°C is called ‘suvikeli’,  which translates as 'summer weather'. Though not really summer, 'suvikeli' can be very nice. It is the perfect weather to make a snow man or even to build a snow castle. Caution: ±0°C can be very slippery.

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