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With New Nordic Emojis, Give Your Texts That Finnishing Touch


Petra Theman says her favorite from this crop of emojis is the one called Stuck. "That's a feeling every Finn knows," she says. "Your parents told you, 'Do not do that,' and then you do that anyway."
Courtesy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Petra Theman says her favorite from this crop of emojis is the one called Stuck. "That's a feeling every Finn knows," she says. "Your parents told you, 'Do not do that,' and then you do that anyway."

There are emojis to represent virtually every state of being — including, now, the state of being Finnish. To celebrate the run-up to Christmas, the government of Finland has come up with its own set of emoji that capture the particular nuances of Finnish culture.

"We do kind of a Christmas calendar every year, and we were thinking we want to do something this year that works better on mobile and maybe talks to a little bit of a younger audience," Petra Theman, the director for public diplomacy of Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

So, what better than a bunch of emojis to tell the world what it means to be Finnish? That means, among other things, headbanging, knitting socks, cordially maintaining your personal space — and, yes, occasionally getting your tongue stuck to a frozen pole.

Here's the instructions on how to download the emojis, and the latest emoji in the advent calendar-style release (you can go back through to see the others).

Interview Highlights

On the headbanger emoji

I'm not really sure if this is 100 percent true, but at least in Finland, we've seen a study that says that we have more metal bands per capita than any other country in the world. Basically the fact that we even have a metal band for children, that should kind of already seal the deal.

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On the sauna emoji

Sauna — that's even a Finnish word. ... For us, it's a sacred thing. It's just something that's very important for us. That's the only way to really clean yourself and really make yourself clean spiritually and physically.

On the emoji showing Finns standing at a bus stop, staunchly maintaining their personal space

I'm so sorry! I mean, we would like to be more like you Americans, but we're not. That's basically what happens. There's a picture that's been pretty viral in Finland that is a true picture about Finns standing and waiting for a bus. So that picture is really captured from a true photograph.

On her favorite emoji

I have a favorite that's called Stuck. It's a small child, stuck with his or her tongue in a metal pole. That is a feeling every Finn knows. Your parents told you, 'Do not do that' and then you do that anyway. ...

Oh, you have no idea how many times [I did that]. And then I was stuck! And the only way to loosen the grip, so to say, when your tongue is stuck on a frozen metal pole, is to pour warm water on it.

And there is a terrible trick — I'm not sure if I can tell this on the radio — but there is a terrible trick that every Finn knows when you're a child. And that is, if you do that, you're stuck and your parents are not close, only your friends, you can ask your big brother to pee on your tongue. Yeah, I'm sorry.

So that's a secret trick I'm now sharing with you.

On what she has enjoyed about the project

They're quirky. I like that we were able to do government emojis that don't only talk about our strengths, but also a little bit about our vices and I think that's the way it should be.

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