Metal music soothes anger and depression

I read it in one of the Instagram stories (by the way, these are the best Instagram profiles in Finland) by the Finnish-Dutch psychologist Bjarne Timonen (this is his instagram, if you want to follow him too). According to a study, it’s true that Finland’s favourite music, Heavy Metal, helps with anger and depression.

Finland and the Mind

Finland ranks again #1 in the happiness study. And here’s a list of 10 things that make a Finn happy.

But is everything perfect? Of course not. Long winters tend to make people melancholic and perhaps hit the bottle a tad too much. Nowhere it is perfect.

Finns in their day to day life. Source.

With an extreme climate like Finland’s, and endless winters of darkness and cold (as well as low population density in many parts of the country), it is normal for many people to experience and tend to negative emotions, such as depression and anger.

But it seems that Finns have unknowingly found a natural way to cope with it: heavy metal music.

Heavy metal music helps calm anger and depression. Click To Tweet

Finland and Heavy Metal

Knowing the aforementioned fact we understand better why there are more Metal bands per capita in Finland than in any other country. Or why in the University of Helsinki there is a postgraduate course of Heavy Metal. Or why there is a priest who gives his masses with Metal music (of course that helps to keep people engaged).

Metal concert
A Metal band playing in Helsinki. Source (CC: by)

Does metal music help with anger and depression?

Yes. Or at least that’s what transpires from the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience study. Here you can read it in full.

Heavy Metal and associated genres (Death-, Black-, Folk-Metal, or Metalcore), are associated by the tabloids – and even serious means – of provoking aggression or criminal behavior.

But is this true?A group of Australian researchers conducted a study where subjects were made angry and then asked to listen to their favorite (extreme) music or – for the control group – to remain silent. Emotions were then measured both objectively (e.g. by counting beats per minute) and subjectively (interviews and questionnaires).

The results? Extreme music not only does not cause anger, but helps the listeners to process their negative emotions and calm down. It also seems to stimulate feelings of activity and inspiration. The authors concluded that extreme music does not cause anger but rather helps well-disposed listeners to process their negative emotions and calm down. It furthermore seems to stimulate feelings of activity and inspiration.

Fronteers in Human Neuroscience

It seems that the Finns – well, and the musician Justin Currie when he said at his concert at the Triple Door in Seattle that “the further north you go, the more they like rock” – found a natural way to combat the effect of the environment on their psyche. And they turn the problem into a virtue.

What do you think of Finnish Metal? What effect does Metal music have on your life?


Children eat for free in Helsinki in the summer

Helsinki. Summer. The playgrounds are overflowing with children and around noon someone starts serving free food to them. Every day. Fiction? No, Finland.

Kids in a Helsinki park
A park in Helsinki. Source (CC: by)

The children eat for free in Helsinki during the summer

Every child under 16 years old can eat for free in the capital of Finland at any of the more than 50 designated points – parks – throughout the city. Most of them open every day during the months of June and July. And we say every child: it doesn’t matter if they have more or less resources. It’s like the Finnish baby box: it’s for everyone.

Food is served to the little ones during the weekdays. There is no need to register to attend, and the only thing the little ones need to enjoy this service is to bring their own utensils: bowls or soup plates, spoons and forks.

The menus are designed by the city authorities. Specifically by the Education division of the city council.

playground in Helsinki
Plenty of kids. Source (CC: by-sa)

What kind of food do they serve?

For example, the very Finnish rice porridge, various kinds of creamy vegetables, and several other Finnish classics, such as pea soup, sausage soup (some say that sausage is Finland’s national vegetable, and we don’t contradict that) and many kinds of fish soup. Also Italian-style stew or Archipelago Soup made with rainbow trout . If we talk about desserts, the traditional rhubarb pie was served last year during Helsinki Day.

If you want to take a look at last year’s menu (in Finnish), here is the link. On this website there is a link to the daily menus and the allergens contained in the meals so parents know exactly what their child would eat.

kid with Tupper
Bring your own Tupper. Source (CC: by-sa)

The history of free food service for children

This 2020 marks the 88th anniversary of this measure. According to the website of the City of Helsinki (FIN), this service began in 1942 during the Second World War. At that time many of the inhabitants of the Finnish capital were suffering from food shortages. Therefore, a solution was found that was mainly focused on the smallest ones: they would be guaranteed at least one meal every day.

Today the service has evolved, as people clearly do not have food problems. The service is now more focused on nutritional and social reasons, like making summer days easier for families.

And there is another reason: normally children have one free meal a day at school but not during the summer holidays. Thus, the municipality helps while the parents still have to go to work.

Swings in a kids park
Playground for kids. Source (CC: by-sa)

Only in Helsinki?

And it seems Helsinki isn’t the only city who does it. Vantaa tried this concept last year as well, and it seems they’re repeating it this year again Last year they made a video about the experience that is very illustrative for this post. YLE’s article on this subject is also good.

And you, what do you think of this almost hundred year old Finnish initiative? Would you go or would you like to see it implemented in your city?


Takatalvi – when the winter is back during Finland’s spring

Where I am from we have an idiom. I’ll write it in Spanish: “hasta el cuarenta de Mayo no te quites el sayo“. This translates to “until the 40th of May, don’t take the coat off”. Yes, May doesn’t have 40 days, but if you say “June 9th” it doesn’t rhyme. Anyways, in Finland – with the same spirit – they have the Takatalvi: the winter weather and temperatures that come back during the spring time.

This year, concretely, it is warmer than usual, as it is happening all around the world. Be sure, nonetheless, that there is a Takatalvi waiting for you in Finland, when the temperatures will drop again and might be more snow coming. Always happens.

Takatalvi: the winter that comes back

Of course, is not winter per se that comes back, but the low temperatures and the snow that are the landmarks of the Finnish winter, due to the climate in the country.

Something Takatalvi, but inverted, happens as well, and is called in Finnish “intiaanikesä” – Indian summer of North America would be the translation. These are the few days in autumn when the temperatures rise above average and it is warm and sunny… before the real cold autumn comes.

Takatalvi is that moment when you feel that the spring is already here, and that the temperatures ks finally above 0 degrees Celsius in a constant manner (although less than 10, of course: we are talking about Finland in Spring)… but then suddenly it starts snowing.

Finnish temperatures
Average temperatures in different places of Finland.

In Finnish languagetaka-” is a prefix that means “rear, back or posterior” and “talvi” means “winter”. The word definitely makes sense.

When does Takatalvi happen?

The Indian summer doesn’t have a fixed date, nor does the Takatalvi in Finland. It could happen in any moment of the spring, when winter already seemed to be over.

Takatalvi: snow over fruit.
There were some fruits on these branches… then Takatalvi hits.

Usually, on the years where the winter lasts longer this phenomena comes quite late. The Takatalvi, usually, comes in April but in even stranger years it can snow up to May. In Joensuu I remember such thing happening in May.

And these are the characteristics of this special meteorological phenomena. If you are planning a trip to Finland or you are in the country right now and the temperatures seem benign… remember not to put away the winter clothes just yet.

Does this phenomena only happen in Finland?

No, it is also common in other countries of the Northern Hemisphere. In USA they call it Blackberry winter , as it happens at the same time blackberries grow.

'Takatalvi' is a very Finnish word that means 'The winter that comes back'. This phenomena happens in Spring Click To Tweet

Have you experienced a Takatalvi in Finland? What’s the weirdest date you’ve seen snow falling from the sky?


Personal space in Finland (compared to other countries)

It is well known that personal space is sacred in Finland.

If you have been in the country and have not seen a bus stop where each person is at least three meters away from the next, you haven’t been in Finland long enough. And this happens under rain or snow – literally.

Personal space in Finland
Perfect illustration of the phenomenon. Source: reddit.

But does this happen only in Finland or is it something Nordic? How does it compare to other countries? That’s what we are going to outline in today’s post.

The beginning of the meme

It all started with some online photos: reddit, twitter… in them you could see a group of Finns waiting for the bus in a curious way: leaving quite a lot of space between each person. A photo like the one we put above or like this one.

Finns like to keep distance, also in the normal dealings. The issue of transport, however, is almost iconic, as Finns wait for the bus or tram in the manner seen, and also once on the transport they will invariably prefer to walk to the other side of the car to sit alone, rather than sit with someone.

The bus stop, though, is what has become famous. Under all weather conditions. You better take an umbrella with you because even if the bus stop has a roof, if there are 1-2 people at most you will have to – if you want to respect personal space – wait outside:

And, as with drinking alone at home in your underwear, there is an emoji that the Finnish government itself brought out to show the phenomenon. This is the one:

Personal space at a bus stop

Does it only happen at the Bus stop?

There are other everyday things where Finns persona space remains inviolable. For instance, it is common for neighbours to not say hello when they pass each other in a building. And they are not very good at kissing when they meet someone, either. On the contrary: the two-kisses-in-the-cheek greet can be a scary thing for them. Ah, I still remember the first time it happened to me…

Finns are well aware of the perks of being alone, and they designed park benches for just one person.

Personal space in Finland VS other countries

But it is clear that personal space is something we all need, although the degree – and actual distance – does vary by culture.

In addition to this, a study called “Preferred Interpersonal Distances: A Global Comparison” caught my attention. We’ll get to the conclusions in a moment, but if you want to read the whole thing, it’s here (PDF).

Personal space by country

The data comes from interviewing 9,000 participants from 42 countries. The closest comparison point with Finns would be the Norwegians, as Finland wasn’t part of the study (and we have to rely on the bus-stop-distance for guidance).

The people interviewed for the study were asked how far away strangers, acquaintances and close friends (in this order on the table) should be to feel comfortable during the interaction.

The countries that need more personal space with strangers are Romania, Hungary and Saudi Arabia. Norway, which is in the middle of the table for distance with strangers, between South Korea and Canada (with less space needed than Portugal, for example, and more than Spain). Surprisingly, the Norwegians prefer their good friends at 30 centimeters, and the Germans are also very close with friends. Who knows if it’s because of the coolness in those latitudes.

Personal space in Spain: strangers at 90cm, acquaintances at 75 and friends at 60cm Click To Tweet

Is it all the same for everyone?

Something interesting, and which can also be read in the study, women in all countries prefer to have more personal space than men, and the older they are – equally in all countries – they prefer the others to be at a greater distance.

Women prefer greater personal space than men in all countries Click To Tweet

However, even if Finland does not appear, we can rely on this unofficial diagram of what personal space is like in Finland, which I believe is quite correct.

Besides, in Finland even ducks have their own personal space, as Luis Puerto commented on twitter.

However, personal space in Finland does not apply in the sauna… or in pubs.

What do you think of the unwritten rule of personal space in Finland? How much space do you feel comfortable with friends, acquaintances and/or strangers?