Hyvää Joulua! – about Christmas in Finland

Probably many of you during the publication of this post will be halfway through the preparations for Christmas dinner. It is possible that part of my readers will be buying last gifts or quietly packing presents for their loved ones. I, at that time, will be collecting information that will help me in creating more interesting posts especially for you. It goes without saying – this is a busy day, which will end with a delicious dinner in the company of loved ones. For me, too.

For now, I will not disclose any details of this year’s Christmas Eve, but I assure you that in the end it will happen. In the meantime, I invite you to spend a few moments in the Christmas Finland by reading this post decorated with lots of photos!

Finnish trolls
Christmas trolls – they are really cute, aren’t they?

The time before Finnish Christmas

The biggest difference between Poland and Finland is that in Finland the upcoming Christmas is not so overwhelming. I suspect that if I lived in the U.S., I would not leave my apartment when the Christmas marketing season would reach its peak. When exactly this season begins in the United States, I will tell you some other time 🙂 But returning to Finland, shop windows are not overly lit and if they are, the lights are not flashing. From speakers in shops and shopping centers rarely can Christmas carols and songs about Christmas be heard. In contrast to Poland, where “Last Christmas” can be heard even once in an hour on the radio if someone is “lucky”.

Besides the lack of flashing lights, also decorations in the shop windows are quite modest. Typically, there is a bit of artificial snow and a Christmas troll, optionally some glass balls or gifts. Interiors of large hypermarkets are also kept modest – each has a special place dedicated for seasonal goods, including Christmas products, and only there one can find them.

Decorated shop windows
Shopping window in Finland during Christmas
The most Christmas shopping windows, which I managed to find

In one of the shop windows each year a large Christmas Crib is displayed, which is said to never be the same. This shop is Stockmann in Helsinki, and, more specifically, its windows located on the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Keskuskatu. Many parents like to come there with their children, because the crib is full of moving elements. It should be added that Aleksanterinkatu is the most embellished with Christmas decorations street of Helsinki.

Stockmann Crib in Helsinki
Fragment of the Stockmann’s Nativity Scene. Making it so detailed must have taken a lot of time.

Moreover, before Christmas holidays, Christmas events are widely organized by companies for their employees. Also partying places do so for their customers, as well as anyone who wants to spend with friends or family firmly a nice evening.

Christmas Fairs and others

As befits a European country, Finland also has its Christmas Fairs. However, in contrast to fairs in many other European countries, those in Finland start their Christmas activities later, because after the December 6, which is the Finnish Independence Day.

Finnish handmade stuff
Handmade beautySuch beautiful things can be bought at the fair

The stands are full of handicrafts and homemade food products. Attractions are present, like blacksmithing demonstrations initiated at any time by blacksmiths who want to sell their products. They attract almost always a large crowd. Of course, there are many places where one can drink and eat, too. In this way, the needs of both sides are satisfied – sellers’ who want to earn, and the Finns’ who love to eat and drink. Christmas drink in Finland is glögi – mulled wine with spices and raisins, to which at home vodka is added to rise the alcohol content. One can eat salmon or reindeer soup, smoked fish, or more commercial dishes like chicken and fries. Everyone should find something tasty!

Near Stockmann
We invite you to drink glögi!
Preparing salmon
Preparing salmon

With holidays approaching on the streets of Finnish cities artists show their craftsmanship, usually musicians. Moreover, other creative people show their abilities too – while walking next to Stockmann I met a group of carolers who collected money to a fluffy fur cap. I daresay that Finns are reluctant to subsidize street artists, which does not stop the artists from appearing quite often on the streets. Some even have “their place”. Apparently, money is only an addition to passion.

Musicians in the underground passage at the train station in Leppävaara
Musicians in Helsinkach
I met these artists in Helsinki

Finns like to send cards and Christmas gifts. Just before Christmas post offices are experiencing a real siege. In addition, the post office offers a unique selection of Christmas cards and even boxes. If someone does not want to send the package in plain cardboard box, s/he can choose a different one – for example, with red motif of birds sitting on the branches of a tree. What is more, cards, though standard, have an additional option – one can choose a card that will support the charitable organization, which motivates Finns to buying them.

During Christmas holidays in Finland

Finns are traditionalists who love their homes. For this reason, most of them during Christmas holidays remain in their homes. Only a few decide to rent at this time a cottage or villa (of course with a sauna) away from their homeland. If someone already decides to do so, it is most often located in the countryside or in Lapland – the land of forests and reindeer, as well as the homeland of Santa Claus.

In Finland everything is done without haste. So it is with the holidays – all ornaments and some dishes are prepared in advance to avoid rush on Christmas Eve. The main course on Christmas Eve is roasted pork. In addition to it on the table, one can find potatoes, which in this area are really valued. Also rice pudding, smoked fish, casseroles, salads, and gingerbread are present on the table. Guests are welcomed with glögi.

On that day the whole family goes to a Midnight Mass. Some also visit cemeteries to light a candle in memory of deceased loved ones. But the peak and the most important moment of the day, for adults, is evening Christmas Eve sauna. Children wait with eager for Santa Claus, who almost always shows up “in person”, and after confirming that the kids were good this year, gives them gifts.

Decorated Fazer shop


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