Finland to officially launch national emojis for internet use

Images of people in saunas, the unbreakable Nokia 3310 mobile phone, a metal rock fan and many other symbols of Finnish national characteristics, will soon be available to be downloaded as emojis for use in electronic communication devices.

The Finnish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it would soon unveil the whole set of Finnish emojis, claiming that Finland is the first country to create such national emojis.

Finnish netizens seemed to be enthusiastic about the launch. On the Facebook account of the national broadcaster Yle, nearly 2,000 people liked, and about 200 netizens shared the news.

"The launch of emojis is a wonderful idea," "I will definitely use (the emojis)," "It is something worth celebrating," "This is Finland," commented some netizens on Twitter.

The ministry said more than 30 such emojis illustrating Finnish emotions can be downloaded from app stores for free from the beginning of December.

The set of emojis are also a part of the Christmas calendar to be published by the ministry in different languages. The calendar has 24 hatches representing 24 days before Christmas Day on Dec. 25. When a new window on the calendar is opened, an emoji is revealed.

"The emojis used especially by young people have revolutionized communications in the same way as the invention of the text message," said Petra Theman, director for public diplomacy of the Foreign Ministry.

Theman hoped that the Finnish emojis will tell the world not only the special features of Finland, but also the strengths of the country.

The emojis were designed by Bruno Leo Ribeiro together with the ministry.

Ribeiro is of Brazilian origin, and is now working at the Finnish marketing and communication agency Hasan & Partners. With over 10 years of experience of design work, Ribeiro has designed music emojis such as Kiss, the Beatles, U2, which have been spread around the world.

On Wednesday, the ministry published the first three emojis: the Sauna, the Unbreakable and the Headbanger.

The Sauna shows a man and a woman, sitting in steam rooms enjoying the bath. Sauna is a substantial part of the Finnish culture. There are over 3 million saunas in the country of 5-million-population. It means almost every household has a sauna.

The Unbreakable is an image of the legendary Nokia 3310 mobile phone designed in Finland. The device is well known for its toughness. In a way, the emoji seems to express the tenacious spirit of Finns.

The Headbanger is a graph of a crazy metal fan. Warm and passionate metal music is popular in Finland, where sunshine is scarce in winters. The Ministry's promotion website said "all Finns have a small headbanger living inside," though they seem cool and calm.

While many praised the launch, some suggested that the negative side of Finland should also be reflected, for example, bread queues, homeless drunks, loans with high interests and so on.

Some graphic designers of the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat said that they cannot wait for the official launch and they quickly created some of their own emojis: a drunk Santa Claus, a soldier of the Winter War and a rubber potato for criticizing bad school food, all of which are quite ironical.

On its website, Yle is collecting readers' suggestions of their own emojis which best describes Finland and the Finnish culture.