Finland has a unique interpretation of Valentine’s Day. Rather than celebrating romantic love between two people, they celebrate the love of friendship. Ystävänpäivä, or Friends Day, is a time to cherish those who stick by you through thick and thin.
Valentine’s Day in Finland began as recently as the 1980s, but by 1996 it changed to include everyone rather than those in love. Even such, it’s still emotionally and commercially the second-largest celebration in the country behind Christmas. In 2015, more than 3 million cards were shared between family and friends in a nation with a population of less than 6 million.
The day is celebrated in a myriad of ways, from dates between friends to lively social events that include large groups. Brunches, parties and even sporting events are put together to allow friends to gather and show their love for one another. Since it’s Finland in winter, you can bet there are plenty of skiing and sledding adventures to be found.
Rather than flowers and heart-shaped chocolates, the Finns will use the day to gift each other with small tokens of appreciation. You can still find tons of stuffed bears on the shelves, but often you’ll find them gifting each other items that are actually useful. It’s more like Christmas in February, than the love fest we see here.
Ystävänpäivä might be the best place to visit for anyone looking to escape the romance and fluff of February here in the States.
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