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Tuesday's papers: Sensible shopping, darker days, misleading names, and the case of the dill sniffer

Among the items in the morning newspapers are a look at sensible seasonal shopping and a cautionary tale about how not to test supermarket produce.

kaupan hedelmähyllyt
Image: Kristiina Lehto / Yle

Several newspapers, including Turku's Turun Sanomat, carry a syndicated Lännen Media report of a new study saying that Finns tend to see themselves as sensible shoppers, even at Christmas time.

According to a survey carried out by the Association for Finnish Work, most people say that their shopping decisions during the holiday season are driven by practicality, weighing choices, price comparison, planning and quality.

Impulse buying and extravagant consumption are rare. Only 1% of shoppers admit to losing a sense of reasonable spending at the Christmas season and 3% say they splurge.

Nearly one in three Finns plan to spend less this year on Christmas than they did last year. This is especially true in the capital region, and among young and middle-aged shoppers.

Many Finns also tend to buy Finnish-produced goods. This survey found that one-third said that most of the products and services they will be purchasing for the holidays will be domestically made.

Dark and darker

Although most of us are keenly aware of the situation, Aamulehti points out to readers we are in the darkest part of the year, and the days will get even shorter before the winter solstice this coming Saturday.

Aamulehti's hometown of Tampere will have just 5 hours and 22 minutes of daylight on Tuesday. The sun there rose at 9:40 AM and sets at 3:02 PM. Over the next few days even more minutes will fall away, with the city seeing daylight for only around five hours on the weekend.

The paper noted that different sources provide different times for sunrise and sunset. Asked for an explanation, Meteorologist Mikko Laine of the Finnish Meteorological Institute told Aamulehti that with the sun is so low on the horizon, there is variation in how it is determined when it is visible or not. A precise answer is very theoretical, he says.

For the next few weeks, the sun will be at a near "standstill". In two weeks only around 10 minutes more daylight will be seen at Tampere's latitude.

Things start picking up in January, though, and by the end of next month the sun will be up for two hours longer every day than it is right now.

What's in a name?

Finland really does not have a Ministry of Obscure and Incomprehensible names. Instead, in recent years, many government agencies and bureaus have unilaterally decided to adopt new names that describe little to nothing about their functions, or in some cases are misleading.

Tuesday's edition of the freesheet Metro republished an article from parent publication Helsingin Sanomat saying that some of these names may not be just weird, but even illegal.

The article kicks off by asking what "Vimana" is. Readers are excused for not recognising it as the state-owned national IT service center for counties, set up last year. Not even Ulla Onkamo, who oversees name planning at the Institute for the Languages of Finland can explain where it comes from.

Onkamo points out that the law requires officials to use "factual, clear and understandable" language in communication with the public. This is often ignored.

There have been some recent instances bucking the trend to rebrand government agencies and public facilities. For example, the Parliamentary Ombudsman stepped in to order Trafi (The Finnish Transport Safety Agency) to print its full Finnish-language name on envelopes because it was being confused with the Finnish Transport Agency, which in turn will soon be known as "Väylä" which can be translated as "way" "fairway" or "channel". A reform to social and health services is creating a spate of new agencies and even more new, obscure names.

Onkamo says that the problem is not that someone in the agencies is evil, only ignorant about some of the basics of communication. While she understands the desire to create a brand around a new name, she also points out that it can be done in a way that the public understands.

For non-Finnish speakers, however, it is not always for the best. Following pressures for clearer language usage a hospital that had planned to christen a new facility with the snappy title "Stroke Unit" renamed it as "aivoverenkiertohäiriöyksikkö".

Dill sniffer alert

The daily Helsingin Sanomat reports an announcement by the police department of Itä-Uusimaa saying that officers had detained a "dill sniffer" at the Jumbo shopping mall in Vantaa on Sunday.

HS explains that police were called to a supermarket in the mall after a middle-age local man was seen first placing potted dill in his cart, then pinching off a sprig, placing it in his pocket, and returning the potted plant to the shelf.

By his own account, the culprit pinched the dill so he could sniff it to see if it was fresh. Not being satisfied with the quality, he put it back.

By the time police arrived, he had already paid for the plant, after being challenged by staff. This did not spare him from being questioned and placed under investigation on charges of creating minor vandalism.

Interviewed by the newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, the manager of the supermarket said that if customers want to taste products, it is no problem as long as they ask and get approval from the staff.

As for dill, there's no reason to pinch it, "The scent of dill immediately and easily tells you if it’s fresh."

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