(CNN) — Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary of independence from neighboring Russia on December 6, 2017.
Helsinki, founded in 1550, is Finland's largest city and the capital, with over one million of the country's 5.5 million people living in the metropolitan area.
Why celebrate for a day, when a whole year is possible?
Here are 10 tips to help feel more like a local in Finland this year.
It's less a matter of comfort than survival.
In July, Helsinki temperatures average a pleasant 17 C (62 F). In February, it's minus 6 C (22 F).
Planning on heading north? Then the right clothes are crucial.
For those delivering Christmas letters to Santa in person, Lapland temperatures can plummet to minus 50 C (minus 58 F). Arriving in Finland unprepared? Try one of Helsinki's 10 UFF secondhand stores, which support aid projects in Africa and India -- decidedly pricier options are also available, like Marimekko.
Seek out a sauna
Hot in Helsinki: Saunas.
Finnish Sauna/Harri Tarvainen
Finns love saunas.
The nation claims to have about 3.5 million of them -- roughly one for every 1.6 people.
They come in various forms, including smoke saunas, electric saunas and mobile saunas.
Löyly, Hernesaarenranta 4, Helsinki 00150 Finland; +358 (9) 6128 6550
To outsiders, Finnish conversations can be cryptic
At the same time, the Finnish language lacks the words for "please" or "excuse me."
The result is that what may seem to outsiders an awkward, borderline rude exchange is simply everyday conversing for Finnish folks.
A simple way to get more up-to-speed culturally is to head to Helsinki's tremendous Academic Bookstore, with its superb selection of books in a variety of languages.
Finland was once characterized as a nation of melancholics. These days it's seen as one of the happiest countries in Europe. Here are just some of the reasons Finns have to be cheerful.
Plunk down at the pub
Winter temperatures make Helsinki a place where a night out can easily turn into hypothermia, so bars tend to be conducive to hanging out -- witness the stacks of board games often found right next to the napkins.
So it's recommended to go for a lonkero (or long drink, usually consisting of gin and grapefruit soda) and an evening soaking in the atmosphere, ideally having conversations with the locals that feel brusque and stilted, which is a sign they're going swimmingly.
There's much to be said for just picking the first option that seems inviting, but Teerenpeli offers beer from its own brewery and for a great cocktail, there's Liberty or Death. Teerenpeli, Olavinkatu 2, 00100 Helsinki; +358 424 925 260
Devour local delicacies
Just avoid thinking of Rudolph while you eat.
Three standouts which shouldn't be missed in Finland include salmon stew, lingonberry pie and reindeer.
Lappi Restaurant is a fine place to try reindeer in various forms, from grilled fillets to carpaccio. (Only do this after sending Santa's letter.) Another option is Savoy, which has been celebrated for decades both for its food and its design (see below) . Savoy, Eteläesplanadi 14, 00130 Helsinki +358 9 6128 5300
Absorb the architecture, particularly by Alvar Aalto
Possibly because it has a strong influence from both Sweden and Russia, Finnish architecture in general has a distinctive look.
Nowadays, the nation's most revered architect and designer is Alvar Aalto, whose "human modernism" has brought him global recognition. Want to bring some Aalto home? His furniture can be purchased at Artek. Artek, Keskuskatu 1B, 00100 Helsinki; +358 (0)10 617 3480
See the Sibelius Monument
After experiencing the nation's most renowned architect, why not salute Finland's most celebrated composer too?
Located in Sibelius Park, this welded steel sculpture by Eila Hiltunen resembles a massive organ with more than 600 organ pipes.
It also includes a bust of Jean Sibelius himself, whose compositions include the beautiful-yet-spooky "Finlandia."
Take in art at the Ateneum
In addition to the interesting contemporary art works inside, Kiasma's exterior is also a beauty.
Pirje Mykkänen/Finnish National Gallery
The Ateneum is where the most important artists of Finland can be discovered, including Hugo Simberg.
Not known for being upbeat, Simberg's masterpieces include "The Wounded Angel" and "The Garden of Death."
For those demanding something a bit more contemporary, check out the collection at Kiasma. Ateneum, Kaivokatu 2, FI-00100 Helsinki; +358 (0)294 500 401 Kiasma, Mannerheiminaukio 2, FIN-00100 Helsinki; +358 (0)294 500 501
The staple of Buenos Aires somehow connected deeply with the Finns.
Apocalyptica: Cello interpretations of Metallica hits.
Notable groups include Apocalyptica (who came to prominence via all-cello covers of Metallica -- yes, they have actually performed with James Hetfield) and HIM (short for His Infernal Majesty -- having managed three top 20 albums in the US, they've just announced their final tour).
Taking place at the old power plant site at Suvilahti, it bills itself as the "biggest metal music festival in the Nordic countries."
Other Helsinki venues include Nosturi, with a capacity of 900 and a knack for hosting artists with a variety of musical styles from all over the planet.
Hit the ice
Finland's had an oversized impact on the hockey world, winning a medal at six of the last eight Olympics. (Infuriatingly, they've yet to collect a gold while the Swedes have two.)
Native Helsinki stars include Jari Kurri, who became an NHL Hall of Famer while winning five Stanley Cups with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, and "The Finnish Flash" Teemu Ilmari Selänne, considered a lock to join Kurri in the Hall this year.
Either take in a hockey game, or head to one of Helsinki's seven artificial skating rinks, such as the Icepark in the heart of Helsinki, not to mention natural rinks as well. Icepark, Rautatientori, 00100 Helsinki If these 10 tips haven't piqued enough interest, here's a list of other Helsinki events during the centenary celebration.