It's Valentine's Day, the day of romance and love. Have you written a poem or sent a card to your loved one or to your secret fancy? Have you bought flowers or chocolates or some garishly heart-branded present? Have you planned a romantic dinner?
If you are a Finn, probably not.
Valentine's Day celebrations apparently came relatively recently to Finland - some time in the mid-1980s. Why does that fact not come as a complete surprise to me? Let's face it, Finns are not typically associated with romance. Finnish men in particular are not too keen on showing any emotion, let alone love. Unless they are very drunk.
It's hard for Finns to say “I love you” - and who can blame them? The French have “je t’aime”, the Italians have “ti amo” and the Spanish have “te quiero”, but the Finns? They have “minä rakastan sinua”. It must be tough declaring your love when it makes you sound like a burst of fire from a submachine gun.
Finnish marketeers and retailers were clearly doomed to failure in trying to make a euro or two from tapping into the romantic feelings of their fellow Finns. Instead, they have shrewdly rebranded Valentine's Day as “Ystävänpäivä” (Friends' Day). Friends are a much bigger market, and one without that awkward emotional involvement.
So, I would like to wish a happy Valentine's Day to all my friends, Finnish or otherwise!
PS: Sorry, I forgot to send a card.