Christmas in Finnish Lapland
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Christmas celebrations start early in Finland, which makes for a perfect trip to Lapland on one of our Santa breaks to get fully into the festive spirit with family and friends!
Santa Claus in Finnish Lapland
Originally called the ‘Joulupukki’ or ‘Christmas goat’ or ‘Yule goat’, the Finnish festive figure has merged with the western Santa Claus over the years. Santa Claus is based in Korvatunturi and his business HQ is in Rovamiemi where his Arctic Circle Post Office is located. Did you know that more than half a million letters from 198 countries are delivered to his post office every year!
For many, Santa Claus delivers presents by going down the chimneys of the houses. In Finland, Santa knocks on the front door to enter and exclaims “Onko täällä kilttejä lapsia?”, which translates to “Are there any well-behaved children here?” before he delivers the gifts.
Traditions in Finnish Lapland
The season of pre Christmas parties starting from as early as the beginning of November is referred to as ‘Pikkujoulu’. But the Christmas season in Finland doesn’t fully start until the first Sunday in December which is called the First Advent.
The 13th December also marks a special day for many Finns being St Lucia Day or the Feast of Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia was a third century martyr who gave food to Christians in hiding, using a candle-lit wreath to light her way. The day is hence celebrated with candles and formal celebrations in town being a common occurrence. The eldest girl in the family also, traditionally portrays St Lucia for the day, donning a white robe and a crown of candles and serves cookies, buns, coffee or mulled wine to the parents. St Lucia Day is much like the end of Thanksgiving for Americans as it kick starts the festive season with Christmas tree shopping and decorating being the main agenda for many Finns. This is also when families and friends start to exchange Christmas cards.
Christmas Eve is the day for formal Christmas traditions in Finland as in many European countries. The day is spent appreciating time with loved ones and Christmas Day is for visiting friends, family and heading out to clubs and bars which open on Boxing Day. Lunch on Christmas Eve consists of porridge containing a hidden almond. Whoever has the almond in their porridge is thought to have good fortune. The celebratory meal is a feast of roast pork served along with salmon, carrot casseroles, scalloped potatoes and mashed rutabaga swede. Afterwards, sweet pastries, gingerbread and mulled wine known as ‘glögi’ are enjoyed before families visit their local cemetery to remember those who have passed away throughout the year and light candles in their memory. The Finnish tradition to end the day consists of a sauna to cleanse the body and soul.