What is it that I admire most about Finland, you’ll ask me. What makes this country special for me?
Out of many things I enjoy about Finland, the most admirable for me is the passage of time. I’m fascinated how the past is an organic part of today’s, how traditions are carefully passed from generation to generation and how they are treasured.
You see, it might seem weird, but in different countries the march of time differs too. In Russia time moves in a very abrupt manner, with zigzags, lapses and gaps. When one epoch ends, remains of previous times are destroyed, and the next one starts from scratch. There are no memories, no appreciation of the past, only focus on the future. Today is not connected to yesterday.
For example, when the Soviets came to power, religion became prohibited. Churches were destroyed. Nowadays, religiousness is popular and churches are built everywhere in enormous amounts. But traditions are lost, and I don’t think it’s possible to replace or reinstall them the same way as it happens to buildings. I don’t know how Christmas was celebrated in my family before 1917, for example. This is something that was lost in the turnover of times.
Or take Kazakhstan, for example. After the USSR collapsed and Kazakhstan gained independence, all Lenin statues were removed and replaced with statutes of local politicians, writers and philosophers.
In Finland, despite the Winter War and overall not-so-straightforward relations with Russia, no one demolished buildings constructed by the German architect Carl Engel, who was hired by the Russian tzar. The statute of Alexander II at the Senate Square survived all kind of sentiments at different historic epochs.
People still live in old Jugend style houses in the centre of Helsinki. On May 1st students throw their gymnasium hats in the air the same way it was done 100 years ago. Cafes from 19th and 20th centuries are still open and functioning.
This smooth transition is very promising and re-inforces trust in the future. It gives you a strong ground, on which you can build your life. It teaches you to appreciate your past and to learn how to make piece with it. It’s something I value a lot.