Know Finland – Nimipäivä (Name Days)

In researching Finnish migration a lot of cultural questions started popping up.  Things that Finnish children learn in school is often foreign to us.  And the further your roots start back to Finland probably the less you know.  I thought I’d share some additional answers that I learn along the way.  I thought I’d start with those little calendars with Finnish names on them you might get in your holiday cards.

Finns celebrate an age old tradition of individual’s first names called Nimipäivä (roughly – ni mi pei væ).  This started as part of a Christian tradition in the Middle-Ages where people named after Saints would celebrate their names on a specific date.  In Finland this evolved to include not only Christian Saint names but also Catholic and even age-old (shall we say pagan) names.  The control of Finland by both Sweden and Russia over the years is also resented with names from those cultures.

2015 was a big year in the name day.  There are now 834 names on the list.  The list is updated every five years.  In 2013, it was announced that 39 new Finnish names would be added to the list in 2015.  Another 57 Swedish-Finnish names were added for the Swedish version of the calendar.  For a name to be added 500 children need to have that name, 50 for Swedish-Finnish names.  Over 14 million name day calendars are printed each year.

Name day is celebrated with cards and coffee and cake.  And they replace birthday celebrations in most offices.  For the first time the name “Sisu” is also on the list and will be celebrated on February 28th, Sisu Day.

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2 comments

  1. Hello
    You seems to have a lot of info regarding this country Finland. I am coming to Finland to study Master degree at Aalto University this September. I have one question for which I need a detailed answer. I think you can help. I am a vegetarian, Milk is allowed but not eggs. What are the things and words that I have to keep in mind while shopping? What are my options when I plan to dine out? Do the beers and wines use meat in any form in its preparation, as I guess I will need to consume some to stay warm during winter outings? Every minute details would be appreciated. I would love if you can reply it to my email — alokjain.oist@gmail.com.

    Thank You 🙂

    • Sorry I don’t know about the specifics on ingredients. Ingredients are listed on product labels. On the two words, milk is “maito” and egg is “muna”. Most Finnish mustards, especially home ones, often use eggs.

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