Being naked comes naturally to us Finns, and we are not usually ashamed to let it all hang out, especially if there’s alcohol involved.

Walking around topless, or bottomless, or completely naked in your own home, or summer cabin (sometimes in the backyard, or front yard, too) has always been completely natural in Finland. And not just when you home alone. For a Finnish mother, it’s not unusual to run around undressed looking for socks, or a clean shirt or any item of clothing we are missing today, and desperately need. Most of the time the piece of clothing missing is not even your own, but you have to deal with that before you worry about yourself getting dressed, because a child doesn’t have the same patience that you, as a mother and/or a grown up, have developed with years or experience. Or should have developed. Sometimes it’s hard to manage patience.

We have to be comfortable with our naked truthness, if we want to successfully pull of reprimanding a misbehaving child or an uppity teenager, while breastfeeding a baby or stuffing the milkmakers, in use or not, inside the only clean shirt we could find. It’s called multitasking, and it’s what we need to master to thrive in our role as a working mother.

In Finland we have seen almost everyone in our immediate family naked, many times. We go to the sauna together, we bathe our children while showering ourselves, we skinny dip during the short summer, because no one bothers to put on a swimsuit after sauna, just to take it off again in a short time for more sauna, and do it again and again because you have to cool yourself down in the water in between beating yourself with a flogger, made out of leaves, in a very hot steamy temperature, with your friends or family or neighbors, or friends of some of these people. And naked, you have to be naked in a sauna.

Photo by Rebecca Matthews. Cover photo by Jernej Graj.

Public saunas are even better, there we don’t have to even talk to anyone before seeing them naked. In the locker rooms, open shower rooms, or the saunas themselves. You can find these public bathing areas in swimming halls (like indoor swimming pools, different kinds, grouped together under one high roof), or gyms or other sporting things. Sometimes in a swimming hall a mother could be so tired they forget to put on a swimsuit completely before going to the pool, and then we can see them naked there too. Happens more than one would think. And every single body out there is beautiful in their own way. Except you can’t really look, that’s not okay in a sauna. No staring, look at your own toes.

It’s even considered to be a great relaxing night with your friends, to all group up in someone’s house, apartment or cabin, or rent a space with sauna, and go bathe in the sauna all naked all together. Usually this involves drinking too, since this is Finland. Or because we need to lose our inhibitions… more? Anyway, this is considered a party in Finland.

Sometimes Finnish people sleep naked, and sometimes a handyman or a electrician or a plumber, or your mother in law, decides to come over, and because you are asleep, you can’t hear the doorbell, and they need to come in using their own keys. And then the sound wakes you up, and in the disorientation of being just woken up, you wander to the source of the sound that alarmed you, not realizing your nakedness, and meet the eyes of the before mentioned visitor, frozen in shock, and now you (both?) will have a great story to tell in the future. This also happens more than one would think.

— Editors

The writer of this story is a member of the Mom of Finland community.

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