Cold, colder… -40C?

Finland today - cold as the colour suggests.

As most of my friends’ Facebook statuses declare: It’s cold in Finland, like in most of Europe these days.

Here in Helsinki the temperature is not as “bad” as in the Northeastern parts of the country, but we have our fair share of chilliness. Today it was about -20C, which feels like -32C because of the wind – that’s cold! Foreigners ask how is it possible to survive in these temperatures? Well, you just have to dress up properly. For example, today I was wearing all these things – and I only got frozen in the nose and cheeks:

  • a warm set of long underwear & jeans
  • normal socks and woolen socks and extra warm winter shoes with lambswool inside
  • leather gloves with lambswool and a thick woolen scarf
  • a feather jacket with a big hood
  • a winter hat like this one. (Lots of Finns wear this model, so I guess they’re either in fashion or just efficient against the cold…

My beloved winter hat. For you I still have my brain functioning.

With this clothing I almost feel ok outside – for a short time. Only the face is a problem. This morning I saw a woman (not a Muslim one) in the street wearing a veil covering ALL her face. Maybe you stay warm, but you don’t see anything!

Anyway, people here don’t tend to be afraid of the cold. In schools, children have to go skiing and skating in sports class if it’s less than -15C. And I’ve never heard that you’d get free from school or work because of the cold weather. Wishful thinking…

Helsinki some days ago - so cold but so pretty. Photo: Inka Soveri / Iltalehti

Let’s see what happens in the days to come: they say it might get colder than -40C in the Northeastern Finland! Wow!!!

I’m almost always cold, so I’m not a good Finn. Anyway, they say that a human being is capable of getting used to extreme temperatures. The aboriginal people in Tierra del Fuego, South America, can sleep half-naked outside in freezing temperatures etc. Some characteristics help you to survive in the cold.

  • Having enough fat to keep you warm (many Finns have learnt this too well…)
  • Having shorter legs and hands – the more compact you are, better you reserve warmth
  • Being a woman – we survive better in extreme temperatures
  • And avoid being tired, on medication, too old, too thirsty or  – most importantly – too long time outside!
According to researches, many mammals follow these rules. Maybe it applies to us too=? At least many Finns are a bit round and have short legs. Purely for environmental reasons…?

Enjoying the cold. Me and my friends snow-shoeing at -20C in Eastern Finland.

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