10 wise Finnish sayings about life we all need to hear

Step into the world of Finnish wisdom and discover the best Finnish sayings, woven with wisdom and sprinkled with cultural insights. Learn the profound meaning behind phrases like "hätä keinot keksii" and unlock the secrets of happiness with "Jokainen on oman onnensa seppä." So without further ado, let’s dive in.

1. hätä keinot keksii - needs invents the measures

This Finnish saying reminds us that things tend to work out in the end. Issues will probably get solved at the last minute, so don’t stress too much. Anyone who’s submitted a huge essay five minutes before a deadline will know this one makes sense.

2. Joka vanhoja muistelee, sitä tikulla silmään - who remembers old things should be poked with a stick in the eye

This amusing saying means that people who dwell in the past get poked in the eye. Nobody wants to be poked in the eye – it hurts – so too does holding pointless grudges and remembering the bad stuff. So, it’s best not to stay angry at people for what they’ve done in the past unless they’ve poked you in the eye. In that case, give them a poke back when they’re least expecting it.

3. Tyvestä puuhun noustaan - rise into the tree from the bottom

This one is the Finnish version of the saying “you must learn to walk before learning to run.” But the direct translation means “a tree is climbed from the base.” Wise words indeed, as Finns know a thing or two about climbing trees. There are so many trees in Finland that each Finn could have 4500 each. It may be lazy to admit this, but I’d use a crane to get to the top of all those.

4. Ei ole koiraa karvoihin katsominen - you shouldn't look at the hairs of the dog

In English speaking nations, the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is used to remind us not to judge other people before you know them. This saying carries the same message but translates to “don’t choose a dog by its hair.” We at Very Finnish Problems are right behind this saying, especially when it comes to books. If you’re looking to judge a book like say- 101 Very Finnish Problems – it’s best to buy a few copies for you and your friends and read them cover to cover. It’s the right thing to do.

5. Kell’ onni on se onnen kätkeköön - who has happiness should hide it

This one sounds pretty bleak, as it advises people to hide their happiness. But it’s about staying humble rather than hiding positive feelings. For example, if you’re driving a brand-new car, don’t brag about it to someone who’s catching the bus. It’s really annoying.

6. Ei se pelaa, joka pelkää - the one who fears won't play

Roughly translated to “the one who fears won’t play” is all about not letting fear hold you back from exciting opportunities. Sometimes you just have to take a risk and go for it and see what happens. Of course, we’re talking about stuff like doing stand-up comedy or asking someone out on a date. Things like being afraid of driving the wrong way on a motorway are perfectly logical.

7. Rahalla saa ja hevosella pääsee - you can get things with money and go places with a horse

This one states that “you can spend your money and get there on a horse.” It means that you can’t get something for nothing, and you have to be willing to spend your money on the things you want. As most of us know, this saying is painfully true most of the time. But not always. When it comes to buying cool merchandise from the Very Finnish Problems store, you get free worldwide shipping for orders over 65 €.

8. Oppia ikä kaikki - Learning all life long

This is Finnish for “All the years are full of learning,” which is the same message as the saying “You live and learn.” We at Very Finnish Problems are right behind this and like to think our blog teaches a few people about Finnish life. It’s full of fabulous Finnish facts. Some of them are so unusual; you’ll think we’ve made them up.

9. Vahinko ei tule kello kaulassa – Accidents don’t come with a bell around their neck

“Accidents don’t come with a bell around their necks” is all about life’s little surprises. It warns that when life takes a turn for the worst, it’ll probably happen out of nowhere, so it’s good to be prepared. If the global pandemic has taught us anything, is that this saying is very true indeed.

10. Jokainen on oman onnensa seppä - everyone is the smith of their own happiness

Let’s end with a nice saying which means “everyone is the smith of their own happiness.” Happiness and success often come from the choices we make and the work we do to achieve it. Of course, life can sometimes throw a few undeserved curve balls at us now and again, but we can control most of the big stuff.


  • What about,’ Kuka se kissan häntä nostaa jos ei kissa ite?’

    Tuula Heinonen
  • My own favorite is definitely “climing ass first in the tree” Kiivetä perse edellä puuhun. I think i’m an expert to this 😁 So it means that you do something before there was something reasonable what you should done first.

  • My favourite Finnish proverb is ”Arvoa oma arvosi, anna arvo toisellekin” (Know your own value, and value the other one as well). I think healthy self-esteem really helps you to regard other people with the respect they deserve.

  • “Hätä keinot keksii”
    In an emmergency, people are creavite and will find a solution to the problem at hand.

  • “Parempi on pitää suunsa kiinni ja vaikuttaa hölmöltä kuin avata se ja poistaa kaikki epäilykset” – better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt about it. Just an awesome saying.

    “Vielä tulee aika, jolloin kaikkien perseet tervataan” – the time will come when everyone’s ass gets tarred. Everyone gets there comeuppance at some point.

    “Olisinpa yksin tai muiden kanssa, aina haisee paska” – whether alone or with others, it always smells of shit. Fault lies with everyone.

    “mennä siitä missä aita on matalin” – pass where the fence is the lowest – choose the easy way.

    Papa Mike

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