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Christmas in Finland

The Most Popular Finnish Christmas Traditions

|December 16, 2021

Christmas in Finland is a time for family, friends, and celebration. There are many different Finland traditions and celebrations that have been passed down through the generations, but it is important to remember that not all Finnish people celebrate Christmas in the same way. In this article, we will explore some of the history behind Finland's Christmas as well as how Finns celebrate Christmas today.


Santa Claus village in Lapland

Origin of Santa Claus in Finland

Santa Claus, or Joulupukki in Finnish, is one of the most popular symbols of Christmas. Santa Claus Finland origin can be traced back to a figure known as 'Old Nick' who was thought to bring presents to children during Christmas. In Finland, Santa Claus is often depicted as a jolly old man with a red suit and white beard.

Santa Claus in Rovaniemi

Today, Santa Claus is represented by a cartoon character named Joulupukki. Although Joulupukki looks very different from the American version of Santa Claus (he has pointy ears and lives in the woods with his wife), he still brings presents to children on Christmas Eve. This tradition comes from an old pagan custom where people would leave food out for the spirits who visited during Christmas.

Finland Christmas Traditions and Finnish Christmas Food Traditions

When is Christmas in Finland?

In Finland, Christmas Day is celebrated on December 24th. It's a big day when many families gather for large meals and gift-giving. Presents are often placed under the tree several days before, so that children have time to enjoy imagining what they might get before it actually happens!

After Santa Claus delivers presents, he joins in by eating dinner with the family. This is a big event where the whole family gathers around the table to enjoy traditional Finland Christmas food like Joulutorttu (a type of Christmas tart), Laskiaispulla (pie with cinnamon and sugar filling), and glögi (a spiced drink made from red wine, raisins, almonds, and spices). Other traditions include singing Christmas carols, lighting candles on the Advent wreath, and making gingerbread houses.

Finland's traditional Christmas Joulutorttu

Facts about Christmas in Finland:

  • Santa Claus is a popular character all over the world, but in Finland, it is taken to the extreme. You will be greeted by a Santa Claus at every airport and train station during Christmas time, especially in Lapland.

  • Ever wondered where all those letters addressed to Santa go? It all goes to “Santa Claus Main Post Office” in Rovaniemi, Finland.

  • During breakfast on Christmas Eve, Finns usually have their most popular breakfast meal of warm rice porridge with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes butter and milk. But what is special about this breakfast meal is that one of the portions is special. Whoever finds an almond in their porridge is considered to be lucky!

Finnish Christmas Decorations

Among the most common Christmas decorations in Finland is the straw goat. The straw goat is placed in the town square during Advent, and many people come to visit it. Every evening until Christmas Eve, a ceremony takes place where the straw figure is set on fire—this represents Old Nick leaving for his home in Lapland (the North Pole). After Old Nick leaves, Santa Claus arrives! Finnish children believe that if they are good, Santa Claus will leave them a present at the goat. In some parts of Finland, people also have Christmas trees decorated with paper chains and cookies.

In other areas, Finns decorate their homes with traditional straw decorations called 'kokonarput.' Kokonarput looks like groups of stars that can be hung from the ceiling or placed on a table. They symbolize the Christmas tree and are meant to bring good luck for the coming year.

Finnish Christmas Gifts

woman unwrapping Christmas gift

The most popular gifts in Finland usually come from Santa Claus! Presents may include candy, clothes, electronics, toys, etc., but children also love receiving books as presents. Many Finnish parents start a tradition of reading one book together every day from December until Christmas. This helps to get children excited for the holiday and also teaches them about the meaning behind Christmas.

Things to Do - Finnish Christmas

If you're visiting Finland during the Christmas season, there are a few things you can do to experience Finnish holiday traditions.

Here are some popular activities:

Joulupukki Parade in Helsinki

The parade features Santa Claus and his elves, as well as traditional Finnish music and dance. Sometimes there are even reindeer!

Rovaniemi

Santa Claus village building in Rovaniemi

If you're uncertain where to go in Finland for Christmas, Rovaniemi might be the place. This is the official home of Santa Claus, and you can visit his workshop and post office during the Christmas season. Finland Christmas Santa Claus Village is definitely among the most popular attractions in Rovaniemi.

If you want to visit Christmas Village Finland, check our snowshoeing, husky ride, and Santa Claus Village tour.

Christmas Markets

couple at Christmas market in Finland

Throughout Finland, there are many different Christmas markets where you can buy traditional Finnish food, crafts, and decorations.

Sauna

sauna spa in Finland

Taking a sauna is a popular Christmas activity in Finland. You can relax in the sauna and then jump into the snow to cool off!

Snowshoeing

snowshoeing tour in Lapland

If there's enough snow, you can go snowshoeing through the forests and landscapes of Finland.

Northern Lights

northern lights above forest in Lapland

If you'll be lucky enough, you might see the Northern Lights shimmering in the sky during Christmas time. There are snowmobile and minibus tours in Finland during Christmas that people can take.

Quadbike Rides

man quad biking on winter in Finland

Another fun way to explore Finland during Christmas is by quadbike! You can take a guided tour or go exploring on your own.

Church Services

Many churches in Finland hold special services and concerts during the Christmas season. If you're interested in experiencing a traditional Finnish church service, this is a great opportunity.

Arctic SnowHotel

If you want to experience something unique during your trip to Finland, the Arctic SnowHotel is one of the most popular tourist attractions. It's located in Kemi and can be visited throughout December. The rooms are made entirely out of snow!

To visit the Arctic SnowHotel, click here.

I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the Finnish traditions associated with Christmas. If you're ever in Finland during December, be sure to experience these fun and festive activities for yourself! Hyvää joulua ("Happy Christmas" in Finnish)! Lapland in Winter is a truly magical experience.

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