As women in Scandinavian countries regularly go to work, their husbands often playwith children, almost always do washing up and ironing. Women, in turn, are able to change a car tire, hang a cornice for curtains, tile bathroom or move furniture without the help of men. The spouse do the house cleaning and caring for the garden together.
Perhaps, that’s life in the harsh environment and the majestic nature which has brought this distinctive trait, which moves closer the Finns and Norwegians, as restraint and reticence. This is a particular feature of Finns. The professor coming in the country, who gave a lecture in Finnish universities, complain of the difficulties associated with the complete absence of any emotions on the faces of the audience. You joke, tell interesting stories, use rhetorical techniques – the result remains the same, silence and frozen faces. The lecture ends, and your students take their stuff and go out of the audience silently. Many people believe Finnish students stupid and insensitive, but it is simply a tradition and feature – the more interesting lecture is, the deeper and more respectful silence is.
Restraint is not limited to behavior but it also influences the attitude to life. Private episode in the life of a Russian traveler is a good illustration of the general situation. One couple from Moscow visited a small and remote Norwegian island. Green landscapes, dazzling sea, cozy houses, fish everywhere – such a Norwegian idyll had lasted until the husband suddenly fell ill. For a couple of days, he was suffering from terrible pain, hoping that everything will resolve itself, until at 4 a.m. it became clear that he needed a doctor. As it often happens in emergency situations, the crisis came on Sunday. Despite this, the doctor, pleasantly smelling of morning coffee came quickly and said that this was very similar to the attack of appendicitis. “It’s, of course, up to you – he said happily – but I would advise you to go to the hospital”. No panic, no worries, no cars with flashing lights. If you do not want – do not, up to you, but you’ better go.
A similar situation occurred in a country hospital, where it was decided to go after all. Incidentally, nothing reminded of the day off there. Everyone was working. A Norwegian nurse came into the room, gave a stern look at the spouse who came to visit a sick, and a minute later, muttering something in Norwegian, put the tray with a hot meal. It was calm and quiet everywhere – “it looks like appendicitis, although of course there are mistakes”. The head of the family by that time was already almost unconscious. As a result, surgery was very complicated, as it was suppurative appendicitis, but it was done the way as if baby tooth was removed – without panic, pathos and drama. “What should i do? – complained the spouse. – We came here by car, and I can not drive”.”So what – cheerfully responded a Norwegian surgeon, standing over the patient cut along and across – in three days, he will be quite able to get behind the wheel”. “And the stitches?” – “You can remove them yourself, nothing complicated”.
Calm and resolution, as if it were not XXI century, but the era of the Vikings and to clean the wound of the warrior is a mere trifle for his battle companion.
“Hot Finnish guys” also show themselves in the peculiarities of the national car-driving. They can drive pretty fast on the excellent roads of the country, but as soon as they catch up with another car, they immediately line up and tag along peacefully with each other, not even trying to get ahead. This is a typical phenomenon for Finnish roads. Only Norwegians are worse – they don’t start speeding even on an absolutely free road. American drivers usually resent – Norwegians are like zombies, dragging quietly after some truck, showing no signs of anxiety.
Finnish restraint often looks like a manifestation of an unfriendly attitude that is usually misleading, Norwegian restraint is, rather, evidence of indifference, which may be true. Indifference is, of course, a negative word, but Norwegian indifference has nothing negative, they just give you the right to live as you want. So if you are traveling during the day without the headlights turned on in Finland, and in Scandinavia the headlights must be on at all times, every passing Finn will beep – disorder is a threat for Finns. But in Norway, no one will react – if you want to pay the penalty, it’s your business.