In North America, February is most frequently associated with Valentine’s Day. At the beginning of the month, stores begin to carry everything related to hearts, cards, and chocolates to give to your sweetheart on February 14th. It’s a nice way to celebrate your partner, but increasingly, people are using Valentine’s Day to celebrate the many different kinds of love they have in their lives, not just a romantic connection.
In Finland, this celebration of friendship is an actual holiday – Ystävänpäivä – and it effectively replaces Valentine’s Day festivities. Today, let us introduce you to the Finnish way of celebrating the season and give you some ideas for showing your own friends how much they mean to you.
Finland’s Answer to Valentine’s Day
Ystävänpäivä is a modern holiday in more ways than one. It began taking shape in the 1980s and was formally introduced to the yearly calendar in 1996. Instead of celebrating romantic love, Ystävänpäivä is instead a day to celebrate and spend with friends. It’s still common to send greeting cards, but, as you might have already guessed, the cards tend to contain messages letting friends know how much they mean to each other.
Now, this isn’t to say that Valentine’s Day as we understand it in North America is completely ignored. February 14th is still a very popular date to ask someone to marry you or to let your sweetheart know how much you care. The difference is that instead of taking your love to a nice dinner, you’re much more likely to meet up with a group of your besties for brunch.
How to Celebrate Ystävänpäivä
Meeting Friends for a Meal
Arguably the most popular way to spend Ystävänpäivä is to meet with a friend or group of friends for a meal. Finnish cuisine is famous for being locally-sourced and seasonal, so the experience isn’t just meeting with your buddies to chat and catch up; it’s also supporting and celebrating your local community. In fact, this aspect of Finnish culture is so vital that even in our Ontario Finnish spa, we’ve made it absolutely essential to feature fresh, local ingredients in our restaurant and bistro.
Sending Cards and Letters
Ystävänpäivä is one of the busiest times of the year for the Finnish postal service, and that’s due to the deluge of cards and letters that get exchanged between friends and family members. You’ll find funny cards, heartfelt messages, and handwritten notes traded amongst people all across Finland.
Any reason to give chocolate is a good one, which is why candies, flowers, and small gifts are still frequently given between friends. Finnish people can be a bit shy about public displays of affection, even between friends. Gifts are still appreciated but may be received with a bit of embarrassment, and signs of physical affection like a hug or kiss on the cheek are reserved only for very close friends.
Spending Time Together
This activity usually follows or precedes a meal together. It can be anything – bowling, skiing, sledding, or just walking around in the great outdoors – since the important part is to spend time together. In Ontario, we might recommend treating your friend to a nice thermotherapy session at your local Finnish Spa, but ultimately, whatever you do is perfect as long as you do it with friends who you love and care about.
Connect With Friends at an Authentic Finnish Spa
Opening in summer 2021, Vettä is your very own slice of Finland conveniently located in Horseshoe Valley, Ontario. With authentic Finnish saunas, a massage vista, and an on-site restaurant and bistro, it’s a great way to reconnect with yourself and with your loved ones. We can’t wait to welcome you to experience Vettä for yourself, and perhaps, next Ystävänpäivä, you’ll be able to share it with friends.
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