Christmas is a very special occasion in Finland as it is for the rest of the world. People are indulged in cleaning and decorating their houses for the three days of Christmas, namely, Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing Day. Moreover, Finland is also the home of Santa and therefore for the Finnish children, Santa does not have travel far to deliver gifts. Santa has an official residence, which is the Mountain of Korvatunturi in the town of Savukoski. Christmas is a family event for many in Finland. The children are the most excited ones as Santa who does not stay far away, is sure to deliver gifts. The visit of Santa Claus is a prominent event in the Christmas of Finland. Another important event is the declaration of peace, which is broadcasted every year. Many people sit and watch the declaration before starting their Christmas celebrations. Go through the article below to know about the Christmas traditions in Finland.
Popular Customs And Traditions
The Christmas celebrations begin with on 24th December, ending on 26th of the same month. Church services commence early in the morning in which many people go for the mass and offer their prayers. A rich, creamy and hot rice pudding forms the traditional breakfast and then it's time to get the Christmas tree and begin the decorations.
One of the best Christmas traditions is the sauna bath. Before beginning the evening celebrations and before the guests arrive, relaxing sauna baths are taken. This is an ancient Christmas tradition. In the olden days, sauna was considered a pure and holy place where many important events such as giving birth to healing illness were carried out. Also, it was thought that the holy spirits of the ancestors come to take bath after sunset, in the sauna. Speaking of ancestors, one must know that it is a common practice in Finland to visit cemeteries and place lit candles and flowers on the graves of their deceased. Cemetery visits are an important ritual, which is carried out towards the dark. Candles are placed on the graves of the deceased friends, family members or relatives in their remembrance.
Dinner begins early in the evening after the decorations and sauna baths get over. A typical Finnish dinner includes oven baked ham or pork roast, casseroles with carrots and rice, or rutabaga. A variety of fish based items or dishes are also a part of the platter. Herring, fish roe and smoked salmons are usually prepared. In drinks one can find 'glogg', which is nothing but flavored wine. Prune tarts and berry puddings are served as desserts.
Christmas Gifts And Santa Claus
Gifts on Christmas Eve may be presented before or after dinner. Here the custom of hanging socks by the children is not seen. In fact, they wait for Santa to come and knock at their doors and shower them with gifts. Santa Claus is known as 'Joulupukki' in Finland. This version of Santa is slightly different from what it is in USA. He comes in sleigh pulled by reindeers but does not fly as it is depicted to the children in the US. 'Joulupukki' resides in Korvatunturi or Lapland, situated in the north of the Arctic Circle. In the evening when dinner is over in almost all parts of Finland, children eagerly await for Santa. When Santa arrives with the gifts and a number of companions, he will knock the door and ask "Are there any good children here?" He is greeted with immense pleasure and children usually sing 'Joulupukki Laula' or 'Peteir Punakuono' to him before he leaves. In case Santa is unable to deliver gifts directly, he will leave them under the Christmas tree.
The day following Christmas Eve, i.e. 25th December is observed as Christmas Day. Nothing more special is done except for attending church in the morning. It is strictly a stay at home, unwinding and enjoying the holiday. Nevertheless, people visit their families or friends.
The History Of Christmas In Finland
During the Nordic or pre-Christian Nordic times, a season of festivity used to come along with the winter. Since, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Demark get extremely snowy and cold in the winters, the custom of celebrating through the darkest and the coldest of times originated. The ancient Vikings, Norwegians and the Danes invoked the Sun God by praying, sacrificing and feasting. Huge bonfires used to be burnt with people gathered around them, drinking and carousing. The festival used to last for three-days. Christmas in Finland, also has its roots in the pagan era, when a festival called 'kekri' was observed. It was a harvest festival and was named after the Finnish God of fertility and crops. Later, when Christianity began to influence the pagans, some old habits were kept alive, such as eating lutefisk and ham. Though most of the traditions from Paganism were either banned or replaced, yet very few of them managed to survive.
As the Finnish bid adieu to Christmas, it time to greet the upcoming year. Officially, Christmas is a thirteen day festival which ends by January 6. Christmas in Finland, to explain in few words, is marked by simplicity and serenity. People prefer spending as much time as possible at home with their families and celebrate Christmas in a pleasant atmosphere. Dining together, exchanging gifts and singing carols are quietly carried out without disrupting the peaceful scenario.