Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in Finland with new pictures

I promised to Aqua Sunday's Lyndsey to write something about Finnish Christmas. So here it comes :D This will still be a make up blog, I'll just make a few post like this per year.

Aqua Sundayn Lyndseylle lupasin kirjoitella joulun vietosta. En tätä käännä mutta jos jaksat lukea, olisi kiva kuulla miten sinä vietät joulua :)
Toivottavasti ei tullut kamalasti asiavirheitä, kirjoitusvirheitä kun tuli takuuvarmasti :D

Our Christmas decorations: Straw goat (but this is not made of wheat sheaves, as usual ;) and Christmas rose.

We believe that real Santa lives here in Finland and his name is "Joulupukki" (Yule Goat) or just Goat :D The Workshop where Santa makes all the gifts is on the Arctic Circle, at Korvatunturi Fell in Finnish Lapland.

We call Christmas "Joulu". I just read that the name comes from Yule, I didn't know that! Yule is the Winter Solstice and it was a pagan celebration of the light that comes back. It was very important (well, still is) since it's so dark in here in this time of year. When the Christians came to Finland, the Yule celebration was moved from the evening of the 21st of December (the Solstice) to the evening of the 24th. And nowadays our "Yule Goat" is same as Santa Claus.

We usually get a spruce tree from our summer house and bring it in our house and decorate it. Some Finns decorate the tree on Christmas eve but we usually do it a few days before, I find it easier that way.

In the morning of 24th we bring candles to graves of our grandparents. After that, at noon, we go to listen the Declaration of Christmas peace. The declaration takes place on the Old Great Square of Turku, my home town and former capital of Finland. This is a Finnish tradition from the Middle Ages. The Christmas peace has been declared every year except in 1939 due to the Winter war.

Video from Youtube:

And my pictures:

"Tomorrow, God willing, is the most gracious feast of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, and therefore a general Christmas peace is hereby declared, and all persons are directed to observe this holiday with due reverence and otherwise quietly and peacefully to conduct themselves, for whosoever breaks this peace and disturbs the Christmas holiday by any unlawful or improper conduct shall be liable, under aggravating circumstances, to whatever penalty is prescribed by law and decree for each particular offence or misdemeanour. Finally, all citizens are wished a joyous Christmas holiday."

And then comes the Santa with presents! He knocks on the front door and asks "Are there any well-behaved children here?" Presents are given (Santa asks kids to help him with the presents, because his eye sight is not the best anymore ;) and opened immediately. The finnish kids get their presents first, bacause Santa lives here. After Finnish (and Scandinavian) children had gotten their gifts, he can go to America. We usually use rent-a-santa but this year our Santa was a friend of my aunt's. In fact this was probably the last year we will get Santa, our kids are getting so big already...

Our Santa :D Look at those shoes. LOL

The Christmas dinner is served after 5 pm, we invited also our parents. Some families have huge dinner parties but I like this way better and we both have relatively small families. The dinner is called "Christmas table" and the main dish is usually a large Christmas ham. We also have fish (I LOVE gravlax) and liver, potato, rutabaga and carrot casseroles. A traditional Christmas beverage is mulled wine (glögi), it can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and beer.

After dinner we just chat and later we take a Christmas sauna. On Christmas Day we just eat, eat and eat ;)

Here is some of my favorite Christmas songs:

Varpunen jouluaamuna/ The sparrow on Christmas morning.
This is a very sad song about a litle girl who felt sorry for a hungry sparrow. After feeding the bird, the bird told the girl that he is really her little brother from heaven. This was originally a poem written by Zacharias Topelius in 1859. There is many versions of this, even "heavy" version performed by Marco Hietala, that one is my favorite. If you are fan of Tarja Turunen, here is her version.

And my other favorite is also originally a poem written by Topelius. Sylvian joululaulu/ Sylvia's carol:

Hope you liked this post :)


  1. How cool! I love hearing about christmas/Holiday traditions from other places <3

  2. Thank you for sharing, it sounds like a wonderful celebration!

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I love it. So... you have Santa living there!...:)

    I do enjoy hearing about other family's celebrations as well as other countires. This was just what I wanted. I didn't know you would do it so quick! Thanks again!

    P.S. If there is anything you want from America just let me know! ( know we'll talk)

  4. Thank you for writing this, it is very interesting to hear about Christmas in other countries! It sounds like a magical holiday. :)

  5. Hauskaa Joulua!

    My great grandfather was born in Finland, so small bits of Finnish culture have filtered down to me, and I'm always excited to learn something new about Finland - so thanks for this entry!

    We have the tiny Finnish flag garlands for the Christmas tree - but I hear those are out of style (and have been) for a while now.

  6. Thanks for posting about your traditions! I can relate to celebrating the return of the sun as I worked in Yellowknife, Canada from Sept - Dec one year and it was dark by 2:30 pm. I did have a nice view out my office window though so I can't say I minded.

  7. Emily: My family has those tiny Finnish flags for Christmas three, too :D They may be out of style, but I think they're kind of cute.

    Thank you Nea for this post! It made me feel so warm and fuzzy :) I love the declaration of Christmas peace, I always watch it on TV. In our family, the tree is decorated in the morning of Christmas eve. I remember how exciting it felt when I was a little child :D

  8. Great post Nea!

    I had never heard about the Yule goat but I knew the Finns used to celebrate the "mid-winter festival" as we also do in the mid summer in June. I know I can't wait until 21st when the light starts to return slowly! I swear there has only been 3 or 4 sunny days in the last 1.5 months.

    @Emily: both my parents and grandparents actually have the Finnish flag garland and still use it for the Christmas tree :)

    Merry Christmas! Hyvää joulua!

  9. I'm glad you liked this, I'd love to read posts about Christmas celebration in different countries too :) And we don't have those flag garlands anymore, LOL.

    I'll re-post this on 25th with new pictures!

  10. That's such an informative post, Nea. Very insightful. I found Christmas sauna very interesting!

  11. I've also believed (and still believe) that real Santa (Joulupukki-Jõuluvana) lives in Finland.:) But the best part of Christmas evening for me is definitely Christmas sauna! I'm sauna-fanatic.LOL. Christmas greetings from Estonia!:)

  12. What a wonderful post. I so love the traditions of other countries. Very fascinating...What beautiful songs too...

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  14. Ihana postaus! Joulupukin lenkkarit oli aika hauska yksityiskohta! ^_^

    Joulurauhan julistuksessa en ole koskaan ollut livenä läsnä mutta tokihan se pitää aina telkkarista katsoa.

  15. Inkivääri:
    Niinpä, nauratti heti kun nuo kengät näin :D lapset vielä uskovat vaikka vanhemmalle ollaan jo ihan suoraan sanottukin asian oikea laita :) Poika ei enää täysin usko mutta kyllä kiltteydestä kysyminen sai vähän vaikeaksi. *heh*


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