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Finland, Funland

by Sally Hammond

Finnish wives aren't worth their weight in gold. Most husbands are after their weight in beer. At least that's the prize in the annual wife-carrying contest in Sonkajärvi, eastern Finland.

Somehow Finland has developed a sober image in the eyes of the rest of the world. Less laid-back than the Danes, less charismatic than the Swedes, more uptight than the Russians, the Finns are not seen as much fun at all. That is, until you get to know them.

The truth is there are many more 'fun' things to do in Finland - staying icebound in a snow castle, visiting Santa beyond the Arctic Circle, enjoying opera in an ancient castle, taking part in Sibelius-themed tours,  or meeting reindeers in Lappland and the famous fictitious Moomin family in Turku. And for 'light' relief, of course there is always the wife carrying.

In the 19th century when the wife-carrying custom originated, the ladies often had to be soundly subdued first before being dragged off to the brigand's home base.

Today it's all done in fun. You don't even have to BYO wife - any female over 17-years-old will do. And although you may snatch someone else's partner, the expectation is that you'll give her back afterwards.



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