What is the Finnish “sisu” and can it be comprehended with the help of a sauna

Almost every nation has a capacious concept that defines many features of its “selfhood” – a certain collective term that reflects the deep essence and incorporates all facets of the national character. Hygge is a way of life for the Danes, an everyday reality in comfort, with a sense of security and integrity. “Sabai” among the Thais is the philosophy of peace, tranquility and comfort. “Magnana” among the Spaniards is the unwillingness to take on unnecessary obligations and overload the brain with business. For Finns it is sisu(sisu) is a word that cannot be translated into Russian, revealing the true character of the inhabitants of Suomi. If you try to pick up analogues in our language, you get “perseverance”, “assertiveness”, “persistence”, “the ability to overcome circumstances”, “reliance on internal strengths”.

Will and Reason

It is thanks to the sisu that the Finns managed to create a state that regularly occupies the first lines of the ranking of the happiest countries in the world. And they did this in the extremely unfavorable conditions of the North, in a small area and with limited resources.

Why is “Made in Finland” considered a guarantee of reliability and high quality? Again, because of sisu.

The worldview position of the Finns is very accurately reflected in the national proverb, the meaning of which is something like this: “What must be done will be done no matter what.” That is, these people methodically, for centuries, forged their well-being and through hard work, without wringing their hands, suffering and unnecessary emotions, they obtained benefits for themselves in a harsh world. Thanks to the strong-willed character, the habit of not retreating in the face of difficulties and simply doing their job, the simple-minded forest dwellers (in the opinion of the more powerful and wealthy Sweden) have achieved what they now have. Their country has become a role model and has risen to the same level of prosperity with Scandinavia.

To an ignorant person, the Finns will seem slow and emotionless, but these qualities are the facets of the same sisu. Solidity does not tolerate unnecessary fuss, and a strong inner core does not at all mean a lack of emotions. It's just not customary to throw them out on other people. Sisu is about endurance and resilience. By the way, a large Finnish truck and heavy equipment company is called that way: Sisu Auto.

What else read more

  • How many saunas are there in Finland and why do they love them so much?
  • Why are there so many blondes in Scandinavia?
  • 5 words in Finnish that reflect the amazing character of the Finns

What does the sauna have to do with it?

Sisu, sauna, salmiakki are the main Finnish treasures. Without them, there is no nation, any resident of Suomi will say (if you didn’t know, salmiakki is sweets made from salted licorice with … ammonia, then still a treat). Since sisu is all about stamina and stamina, going to a sauna heated to 100°C and eating lutefisk from the candy world is such a specific way to “get pleasure by gritting your teeth.” In fact, they go to the sauna to relax and unwind, according to the Finns themselves. But what exactly they mean by real rest and relaxation will forever remain a mystery to us: just as the Finns fail to comprehend the mysterious Russian soul, so we fail to understand the deep connection between sisu and sauna.

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