As you can imagine, the winter holidays – especially Christmas – is very big in Finland. After all, Santa Claus resides in Lapland and as a result, this winter holiday is very special throughout the country.
So today we’re going to get a bit in depth with the Christmas celebrations in Finland and learn how the Finns party during this time of the year – as well as the New Year’s celebrations, which are pretty special and spectacular.
I have already taught you how to say Merry Christmas in Finnish, so you should be ready to party and celebrate like locals do. Here’s what to expect!
Christmas Celebrations in Finland
Before the main events, preparations for Christmas in Finland begin as early as December 1st which is known as First Advent.
Don’t be surprised if you find Advent calendars in all forms – from candy and chocolates, to normal paper calendars, and even Advent cubbies where you find small presents each day as Christmas approaches.
Essentially, it is a countdown to the 25th of December – and such a nice way to prepare for it, I would say!
Midway through the month, Finland celebrates St. Lucia Day. Expect to have a serving of traditional cookies and buns to be downed by coffee or “glögi” (mulled wine).
The martyred saint is depicted by a young girl wearing a white robe with a crown of evergreens and candles on her hair.
While you’re there, you might want to send a letter to Father Christmas (Santa Claus, of course!) who is believed to live in Korvatunturi (or Lapland) which is in the northern part of Finland.
Since Finland is the country where Santa Claus and his elves spend their entire year in preparation for this special day, you can imagine how important this winter holiday is in the country.
And if you want to really make it special, you can even book a visit to Santa’s village – which is indeed possible for families and kids of all ages! It’s truly spectacular, as you can see below:
You will not only visit Santa’s own place, but also a reindeer farm and a husky farm for a completely special experience. (Note: These DO sell out really fast, so make sure to book your experience ASAP, otherwise there might be no second chance.
Finland is also known for their long nights in the winter. Because of these, you will find lights decorating homes and streets to give cheer to the surroundings.
Animals are also given a taste of the festivities. Farmers leave a wreath of wheat, oats, nuts and suet for birds and animals to munch on.
The celebrations cover two days – Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Be prepared for scrumptious pork leg with over-baked mashed potatoes.
The Finns love their vegetable casseroles and smoked or cured salmon, so expect to find that, too!
One interesting Christmas tradition in Finland, which is also found in several countries in the region is the serving of sweetened rice porridge.
In Finland it is called Riisipuuro and is mixed with a variety of fruits. Hidden within the porridge pot is a single almond.
This is coveted by those partaking of it – the who finds the almond in his bowl gets to make a wish and is dubbed the luckiest person at the gathering.
Christmas Day is relatively quiet as the devout attend Christmas church services and families stay at home.
On Boxing Day however, everything comes back to life. Get your skis and skates ready to join the fun!
How is the New Year Celebrated in Finland?
For New Year’s Eve, the Finnish population are geared up for a spectacular fireworks display.
You can bet on a lot of parties with generous spreads of traditional food and copious amounts of alcohol! They sure know how to ring in the New Year!
Finland has a unique New Year’s tradition. It’s all about a bit of new year fortune telling. Miniature tin horseshoes are melted in a pan.
The hot liquid is then poured into a bucket of very icy water where it solidifies.
The random shapes that are formed are then subject to interpretation. It’s called uudenvuodentina and the practice has been very limited since banned in 2018.
Some use eco-friendlier alternatives like wax. If you can’t find it, maybe you should just stick to the usual resolutions!
Whether you decide to go big in your New Year’s celebrations or go low-key, always remember – Pidä hauskaa! (Have Fun!)
Especially for families, the Christmas holidays in Lapland are truly spectacular and unforgettable, especially if you pay a visit to Santa’s Village in Finland. (Again, you can check out the offer here).
But even without a trip to Santa’s place, being in Finland for the winter holidays – no matter if we’re talking Christmas or the New Year’s Eve party – is really nice.
Now you know some of the traditions and what to expect during this time of the year. I am sure you will enjoy it!