Canada vs. Finland – how we deal with hockey rivalry in an intercultural family
When I first moved here, I found some similarities between Finland and my home country of Canada. I felt some sense of familiarity with nature, which makes me feel like I could be in Canada, and the attitude of surviving winter - that all one needs is the proper clothing to get outside. In the summers, people in both Canada and Finland flock to a cabin near a lake, and in winter many people do winter activities like skiing or playing ice hockey. Canadians are stereotypically very polite, and Finns are stereotypically very reserved, but for some reason, the aggressive and physical game of ice hockey attracts players from both countries.
Usually, when I travel internationally, people have not heard of my hometown, it’s not a big city and not a tourist destination. However, when I moved to Finland, I realized that people had actually heard of my hometown of Winnipeg! One of Finland’s most famous hockey players, Teemu Selänne made his start in Winnipeg, and more recently, Patrik Laine was drafted to Winnipeg and played there for a few years.
There are many things about our personalities that are similar, but we have also discovered many differences as we have gotten to know each other better. So, while we appreciate and enjoy the same things, like watching ice hockey, there are still differences, such as cheering for different teams or our opinion of salmiakki.
When my husband and I first met, one of our first conversations was actually about hockey. Being a hockey fan, he immediately recognized the name of my hometown. It was an icebreaker that led to many further conversations. Despite there also being many differences between Canada and Finland, it has helped us to connect that our countries share a love for the same sports and share many of the same values. We have gone to SM-Liiga hockey games together in Finland and NHL games in Canada. We have seen Finnish players play in Canada, and Canadian players play in Finland. Fun fact: the trophy for winning SM-Liiga is called the Kanada-malja (“Canada cup”) because it was donated by Canada’s Finnish community.
While Canada and Finland are not big rivals because of geographic distance (like Finland and Sweden, or Canada and USA), both compete for top medals in ice hockey tournaments. How do we deal with that as an intercultural couple, wanting to cheer for our country of birth, but also supporting the other? How do we reconcile our differences and shared values? Well, watching ice hockey on TV or going to games together is a shared activity we do as a couple. In that way, I think that it is something that brings us together, rather than something that separates us. That we like many of the same activities and can share our hobbies with each other is something that connects us. There are many things about our personalities that are similar, but we have also discovered many differences as we have gotten to know each other better. So, while we appreciate and enjoy the same things, like watching ice hockey, there are still differences, such as cheering for different teams or our opinion of salmiakki.
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