In Finland, Christmas is celebrated from 24th to 26th December. It is a major festival of the country and people celebrate it on a grand scale. As per the Finnish people, Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi (Lapland), located in the north part of the country. Talking about other Christmas traditions in Finland, they begin much before the actual date of the festival. First Advent i.e. the first Sunday in December marks the beginning of the Christmas season. From the First Advent, people, especially the children, maintain the advent calendar, wherein they keep checking the coming of Christmas. Almost a month before Christmas, shopping for the Christmas tree, gifts and decorative items begins. There are several more Christmas customs and traditions in Finland, which have been listed below.
Christmas Celebrations In Finland
The day before Christmas, people clean their homes and prepare special dishes for the festival. They cut the fir trees and take it to home, by sleds. They decorate the fir beautifully, using several decorative ornaments. Finnish people have a tradition of tying a sheaf of grain, seeds and nut on the pole. These things are placed in the garden, for the birds to feed on them. The farmers take care that they get eaten by the birds and then only do they have their own dinner. On Christmas, the streets in Finland are decorated and the whole country seems to swing in the celebration mood. One can even find the street illuminated with the electric bulbs and neon lights, along with giant coniferous pines.
On the Christmas Eve i.e. 24th December, Finish people prepare a sumptuous meal. Their main traditional dish for the day is boiled codfish, served snowy white and fluffy. They also have roasted fresh ham and vegetables and roast suckling pig. Some of their other special dishes are kinkku (ham), riisipuuro (rice pudding), piparkakut (ginger bread cookies), kalja (Christmas brew), joulupulla (braided sweet white braid), porkkanalaatikko (carrot casserole), lantuulaatikko (rutabaga casserole) and joulutortut (pastry with cooked prunes). They use plums in traditional desserts, which form an integral part of the Christmas feast. In Finland, people start their Christmas dinner after seeing the first star in the sky, which is served between 5pm and 7pm.
Finnish people visit the famous steam baths, just before the beginning of the Christmas festivities. They also lit candles on the Christmas tree and decorate it with paper flags, tinsel, fruits and candies. Another popular tradition associated with Finnish Christmas celebrations is the singing of Christmas hymns. Some of the popular Christmas hymns in Finland are Holy Night, Jingle Bells, Angels We have Heard On High, Thou Joyfyl Day, Tannenbaum, and Adeste fideles. The Church services begin as early as six in the morning, on the day of Christmas. People exchange gifts and cards on the festival and wish each other by saying 'Hyvaa Joulua', meaning Merry Christmas.