She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Wife

Quick, name your favorite Finnish export!

Can’t do it, can you? Can you even name one bit of Finnish culture that has touched your life? Seems like there’s something having to do with pickled fish but that might be from Denmark.

Here’s my favorite bit of Finnishness – Wife Carrying Championships. Since 1992 the Wife Carrying World Championships have been held in Sonkajärven, Finland. The 2007 championship was held this past Saturday and the winners are Inga Klauson and Madis Uusorg of Estonia.

According to the Wife Carrying Competition’s website, the idea of this competition – carrying your wife around a race track with obstacles that include hurdles and a pool – is based on two pieces of Finnish history. First, a Finnish leader used to ask his men to prove their worth by carrying weighted sacks around a track. Second, in certain corners of Finland it was an acceptable practice to steal women from neighboring villages. These days the competition has nothing to do with abduction and the perfectly civil prize includes a bag full of wife carrying products (your guess is as good as mine), a trophy, and, most importantly, your wife’s weight in beer.

Ah, it’s all starting to make sense, isn’t it?

While the Fins may hold the World Championships for this sport, it is gaining traction around the world. Here in the US, the annual North American Wife Carrying Championship is in its eighth year and the Australian’s hold their own annual Finnair Australian Wife Carrying Competition.

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