Escalation of the homemade muffins?

By: Henry Grönfors

Restaurant Day in Finland has gathered up many participants and supporters, but on the other hand, opposing voices are emerging, even at the governmental level. The criticism behind the discord seems to derive from similar concerns, as the supporters are more likely to represent young and liberal values and way of life.

Restaurant Day has been a cultural success story during the past few years in Finland. Starting as a frustration and a demonstration towards bureaucratic regulation jungle by few people, it has taken a form of a carnival where almost 700 pop-up restaurants were opened for one day in Finland, not to mention its spillover effects internationally.

Why do people like it so much and why has it become so popular?

As one of the participant answers, “Best thing about the Restaurant Day is the vibe. This phenomenon promotes city and food culture as well as the sense of communality and enjoyment of making something with your own hands. Spontaneous conversations are born between people and everyone is walking around with a big smile”. Identical opinions can be picked up from almost all Restaurant Day likers.

Food and city culture, sense of communality and enjoyment of making something with your own hands – even the promotional video of Restaurant Day tells everything about it. Young people, trendy urban hipsters, delicious and sympathetic cafes and restaurants, all-embracing happiness and enjoyment, togetherness and funky young Helsinki rap music playing in the background. Life seems to be pleasant and smooth. How could anyone oppose this loving and peaceful disobedience of public regulations?

Apparently there are some.

Maria Tolppanen, a member of the Finnish parliament stated that, “Pop up – restaurants are a nice thing as long as nothing serious happens. Who takes responsibility when customers get a food poisoning?”.

But this was not the only concern she had. Such civil disobedience reflects to the whole European economy as well. She continued, “This is why the whole Europe is in trouble”.

Similar comments and opinions can be found in the discussion forums and newspaper websites. “Why not make a Taxi day as well were everyone can be a taxi driver without any permission or drivers license”, or “A doctor day where everyone can sell health services for everyone”.

These concerns reflect the same reason why people are afraid of every other scary thing, the feeling of the unknown. They don’t know what’s going to follow and where is it going to lead. They don’t know if there’s going to be bigger scale harm if the leash is released and regulations are loosened up. Anarchy and a lack of control create fear in one of the most well organized countries in the world.

This dichotomy between Restaurant Day lovers and haters is a quite interesting occurrence in Finland. It really shows how different we are and what things are given more value than others. What is acceptable and what is not, and so on. The line between the young liberals and worrying conservatives is clear. The first part gets satisfaction from the social fulfillment the Restaurant Day brings, whereas the latter sees it as a threat to the system. Comfort and satisfaction comes from other areas of life such as predictability and order.

These differences in values and mindsets really shows on which values the social systems are build between these two different groups. Hopefully, this juxtaposition doesn’t adopt any coercive characteristics in the future and the homemade muffins are used as a food, not for the provocation of the other side.