Finland’s Best Invention and Safety Accessory – The Reflector

Finland invented the ice skate and the sauna, but it’s most practical and helpful invention has been the reflector. It’s a rather simple invention when imagining the impressive technological world we live in today (Alexa, play “Digital Witness” by St. Vincent), but the small shiny objects that glow in the dark are a Finnish safety necessity. 

Reflectors were invented in the early 1950s by a Finnish Farmer named Arvi Lehti. According to Wikipedia, Lehti wanted a device that could protect his horses and trailers from car collisions in the dark. Finnish winters are cold, dark, and long which makes transportation of people, other animals, and carriages dangerous. Now, when a car's headlight hits the reflector, you’re easily seen. Finns were introduced to reflectors later in the 1960s, and it’s now required by law to wear some type of safety reflector when walking during the dark in Finland. 

Reflectors are an inherently Finnish fashion accessory. As someone from the States, we never use reflectors unless on a bike, and even while traveling around Europe two winters ago, I hardly saw anyone use them. In Finland, every person has at least one reflector on at all times whether it be on a coat, backpack, or around the wrist. They don’t just serve as a safety precaution, they’re also quite fashionable! Reflectors are like patches on overalls; they serve as mini identity indicators because you can choose reflectors from fashion brands, charities, religious affiliation or favorite companies. I bought a moominmamma one to add to the Finnish tradition! 

Arvi Lehti stumbled upon a million-euro idea with wanting to protect his farm in the dark. It’s a good thing he did because it gives Finland a unique story and Finns a great safety option for the slow and gloomy winters.