What are the Finnish Christmas traditions?
Christmas is getting closer and people are getting into the holiday mood. In Apukka, this time of the year is usually the busiest and Apukka is filled with happy faces. Christmas songs, Christmas tree and the warm from the fireplace of Apukka would invite you to sit down and relax. Next year, dear friends, the dream is true. But for now, let me tell you more about Christmas in Finland and what are our Christmas traditions.
Finland – The homeland of Santa Claus is full of traditions during this time of the year. Christmas eve is the main event of the holidays, the day is celebrated with the family.
Christmas eve starts with the traditional rice porridge. It’s common to eat it with plum fruit juice or a pat of butter and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. This traditional Christmas Eve breakfast includes one special ingredient: an almond. According to the tradition, good luck will follow the person finding the almond on their plate. In some families, whoever gets it will have a little present.
Traditionally, the tree is brought in and decorated on Christmas Eve morning – for many Finnish families decorating the Christmas tree is the first thing to do on Christmas eve.
At midday, the ‘peace of Christmas’ is broadcast on radio and TV by the City Mayor of Turku. For many Finns, watching or listening to the declaration ceremony broadcasted live on television or radio signals the proper start of Christmas celebration.
Some people attend the Christmas church service and many visit cemeteries to light candles on the graves of their deceased relatives and loved ones. When it is already dark, those hundreds of tiny lights create a magical scenery.
Christmas sauna is another ancient Christmas tradition Finns aren’t willing to forget – tradition of going to sauna to bathe and relax before attending the celebrations of the evening.
After Christmas Sauna, it’s time for another Christmas Eve highlight; the dinner. Families and friends gather together to share the warm, festive atmosphere of the evening and enjoy the various traditional Christmas dishes.
Finns value traditional Christmas food with slowly-roasted ham being the king of the dinner table. Besides the Christmas ham, also potatoes, casseroles, meatballs, fish and mixed beetroot salad are included in the traditional Christmas dinner – not to forget chocolate, Christmas pastries and gingerbread cookies, of course.
Tummies full of Christmas treats, it’s finally time to gather around the fireplace, relax on the sofa and enjoy some glögi, a traditional hot Christmas drink similar to Mulled Wine.
The highlight of the evening comes when Santa knocks on the door. Santa Claus, the most awaited Christmas guest! It’s followed by a sentence familiar to all kids in Finland; ‘Are there any well-behaved children in the house?’ Naturally, every home contains only good children, and they all receive presents. When they are given their presents the whole family gathers to watch the fun of opening.
Christmas Day is much quieter with families usually spending it quietly at home, playing board games or watching some Christmas movies – and of course eating leftovers from Christmas eve dinner!
On Boxing Day people like to go out. Skiing or any outdoor activities with the family is well spent.
Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year!