St Valentine’s day in Finland: this day is for friends!

Do you dread Saint Valentine’s day every year?

Do you think it has become too commercial with all these teddy bears, flowers, chocolates and hearts? Or you just preach that every day is a day to celebrate love and show your other half how much you care about them? Or you just dread this day this year, because you are single and not in the mood for it? Never mind the reason why. We’ve got you covered!

There is a place in the world where February 14th is a day that Carrie and Miranda from Sex & The City would enjoy a romantic dinner on Valentine’s day as friends and would not be looked down upon. Head over to Finland (OK, and its little Baltic sister, Estonia). This is a place for you.

Finns celebrate this day as Friendship Day. Like in real friends, from childhood or school, work or whatever. No need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend as the reason to celebrate.

In a world where people put the blame on social media for ruining human relationships, friendly or romantic ones, Finland goes inclusive.

Read on to find out how it all started and how you would “survive” this day in Finland!

33 years old

It all started in the ’80s (1987 is cited as the starting year). No, really. There had never been any celebration on this day, ever before that. Back in the days, this special day was mainly a school celebration where students were encouraged to give hand-made gifts to their friends to celebrate their friendship.

This Friendship Day only appeared in the calendars in 1996. Its official name in Finnish is Ystävänpäivä, meaning Day of Friends. So, no Valentine is honoured in any way.

So, how do they actually celebrate this day in Finland? How would you survive the day if you lived there? Read on!

Hanging out the Finnish way

The day has come. February 14th. Actually, it is not an official holiday but everybody is in celebration mode.

Older and younger friends arrange to hang out together. To go out for a coffee with pulla (the Finnish version of kanelbullar, the famous Swedish cinnamon rolls) or have lunch or dinner together.

Finns also rush to the Post Offices in the days previous to February 14th to send beautiful postcards to their dear friends, to express how they appreciate their friendship. You know Finns like writing things down… and post-it notes, right?

Numbers are staggering! More than 3 million postcards were sent for Friendship Day in 2015. Wow!

And gifts are also on the menu! Who doesn’t like presents? Um, OK, the Finns like them too but sometimes it can get awkward if they receive it at a public place.

You know, Finns don’t mind going naked into the sauna (even with strangers or their own family) but when it comes to public gestures like handing them a gift, yeah, they might blush a little bit.

But that’s cute, right?

Is love ruled out?

Oh, no. Finns are passionate lovers indeed. And although their language sounds weird when they say “I love you” -watch out, it’s “Minä rakastan sinua“- love is always in the game.

No one is excluded from this day of celebration. Lovers and couples also go out and have fun, exchanging good ol’ cliche heart-shaped gifts. And in some high-schools across the country, students wear red if they are in a relationship and green if they are out looking for their next crush.

And in neighbouring Estonia, if you are single, you can just ride one of the love buses along with other single people. Who knows, maybe he or she is also on the bus. Love can be anywhere!

But friends are for life and we must cherish them lovingly all year round. Happy Friends’ or Lovers’ Day! You choose.

Images: Emilia Hoisko Photography / Visit Finland