thursdays in iceland were traditionally a day to connect with family and friends. this may sound strange, but until 1987, there was no tv broadcast in iceland on a thursday.
it’s believed that this came from a desire not to have a nation filled with tv-addicted zombies. as a result, many icelanders born before 1987 joke that they were most likely conceived on a thursday.
if you were to visit iceland in 1966, you would have noticed that nothing was shown on the country’s only state-run television station on thursdays. the idea behind the decision was to reserve thursdays as a day for socializing.
the ban expanded to the month of july when it was decided that nothing would be shown on television during the whole month. as july was considered a vacation month, it was also expected for locals to spend their days outdoors. luckily the thursday ban ended in 1983 while the july ban lasted until 1987.
certain things you do at one place are totally ok and understood. you do the same thing in another place and it does not come through at all or it might even be totally misunderstood.
to start with an easy one: personal space. finns respect the personal space of each other a lot. you might have seen this funny picture already about finns waiting at the bus stop.
people do not like to make eye contact with strangers and, even when talking to friends and family, constant eye contact is not very common. it might be a sign of rudeness in other cultures not to look each other in the eye when talking—in finland it is simply just the opposite.
if you are standing too close to someone while talking you will notice that the other person is trying to get a bit further from you. you should notice and respect it and leave as much personal space for the other person so that he or she can feel comfortable.
also, touching strangers while talking to them might feel awkward to the other person. in more southern cultures it is acceptable, for example, to tap someone`s shoulder or hold his arm for a second as a sign of sympathy.
in finland, for most people physical contact while talking even among friends is not so common. finns do not give kisses on the cheek when greeting each other. mostly the greeting is saying hi or shaking hands (even with women). people who know each other and are friends or family greet each other with a hug.
people do not talk about their salaries or financial status and it is very uncommon (and sometimes even considered rude) to ask even friends about how much they earn. it is simply considered a part of their personal space. no one comments about each other’s appearance or clothes unless it is something positive or someone asks for an opinion.
in the same way, it is totally unacceptable to ask married friends or couples about if and when they want to have children and how many of them they want. the logic behind this is that people will tell things themselves anyways if they want to talk about them. a lot of unwritten social rules in the finnish society represent the principle of “live and let live”.
finns tend to keep to themselves and not discuss their personal life. talking about feelings is seen as socially unacceptable. only the very necessary is uttered. when finns receive a gift, they will very briefly thank the gift-giver but are not expected to tell whether they like the gift or not.
this type of behavior is often seen as sullen by central europeans and easily mistaken for unfriendliness. finns rarely smile or laugh, and for this reason, they are often seen as hostile by more sophisticated folks.
there is a high degree of equality between the genders in finland, as can be seen in the relatively high number of women holding advanced positions in politics and other areas of society.
chauvinistic or patronizing attitudes toward women are generally considered unacceptable, although such attitudes do persist in practice. women are usually independent financially and may offer to pay their share of a restaurant bill, for instance. a man may politely refuse such an offer, but it is equally polite to accept it.
sympathy /ˈsɪmpəθi/ n赞同；支持
utter /ˈʌtər/ v出声；说；讲
sullen /ˈsʌlən/ adj面有愠色的；闷闷不乐的
sophisticated /səˈfɪstɪkeɪtɪd/ adj见多识广的；老练的
chauvinistic /ʃəʊv(ɪ)ˈnɪstɪk/ adj沙文主义的（此处指认为某一性别优于另一性别的）
patronizing / ˈpeɪtrənaɪzɪŋ / adj自认为高人一等的
来源：guide to iceland; the culture trip; word press; nordicrpg