Finland ranked the happiest country in the world on the national day of equality

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19 Mar

The World Happiness Report 2021 has been published and Finland ranked as the happiest country in the world for the fourth year in a row. This year the polls took into account challenges brought by COVID-19. Finland ranked high on measures including mutual trust into each other, and confidence in the government. These have helped the protection of lives during the past year [1]. The Finnish flag will be going up in the country as today is also the National Day of Equality, which marks the 177th anniversary of social influencer Minna Canth’s birth. Canth was an author and playwright who addressed issues linked to social structures that negatively affected specifically the lives of women and working-class people in the 1800’s. She is the first and so far, only Finnish woman to have a flag day and her work is still considered influential. Finland is well established for the equal rights and opportunities provided to all its citizens. Healthcare and education, including University, are free. Linking to Canth’s early work and influence, girls are encouraged to strive towards senior roles and offered same opportunities as their male peers. Women occupy a lot of senior positions and as of April 2019, 46,5% of the Parliament consists of women. This percentage includes the 35-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin. 

Mutual Respect and Diplomacy

The Finnish sauna tradition reinforces mutual respect between people. Sauna is considered as an egalitarian space where social hierarchies, statuses and titles are left outside the bathing space along with clothing. It has long been used for socializing, getting to know people from different backgrounds and to negotiate difficult situations. A famous example and an advocate of using sauna in conflict resolution- and to better understand others- is the Cold War era President Urho Kekkonen. He used sauna diplomacy to negotiate with the Soviets and to “soften them up”. This says something about the relaxing effect of a sauna session.

World Sleep Day- Sauna as a Tool to Relax

Alongside the social aspect of sauna, relaxation and sleep improvement have been reported to belong to the main reasons people sauna bathe [2]. On top of the flag going up to celebrate equality in Finland, it is also the World Sleep Day. Sauna is a great way to relax, improve sleep quality and our cognitive performance [3]. Three great reasons to celebrate the Finnish sauna tradition on this Friday!