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Christmas in Finland: when and how it is celebrated

Image of a reindeer during the Christmas season in Finland

In Finland, Christmas is probably one of the most significant holidays of the year. Yes, it’s a fact that from snowy Finland Santa Claus starts his Christmas journey. But beyond this, the winter holiday is a time for peace, calm, and spending quality time with dear ones. In this article, you will learn how Christmas in Finland is celebrated and what its meaning is.

Christmas in Finland: from saunas to boxing day

Many Finns start preparations for Christmas even one month ahead. People decorate their homes, hang Christmas lights, and prepare to bring Christmas warmth and tranquility to their houses. In Finland, Christmas Eve is considered the most important day of the Christmas celebration, which usually brings together all family members. At home or at a countryside cottage, Finns families prepare Christmas dinner, dine together, enjoy the company of each other, and unbox the presents. It is also common on this day that people would go to cemeteries and light candles on the graves of family members. Believers attend the midnight Christmas mass.

Deeply rooted in the Finnish culture, going to the sauna is something that could not be missed on Christmas. If initially, this activity was meant to cleanse the body and mind, nowadays it is hard to imagine a Finnish Christmas without a sauna.

Christmas Day Christmas Day is spent quietly at home, while on the 26th of December, called Boxing Day, people get more active. They visit friends or engage in outdoor activities such as skiing on frozen lakes or rivers. White frozen landscapes in Finland frame the perfect set-up for an authentic Christmas holiday.

Image of snowy Finnish nature in winter. Forests and lakes covered in snow in Finland. Finnish landscapes in winter time.

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Traditional food

Finnish traditional Christmas dishes vary from region to region, but there are a few dishes that are an integral part of the festive season.

Oven-roasted ham served with mustard is an absolute must for many. Fish is also an important part of the traditional Finnish Christmas dinner. Other dishes paired up with the fish or pork ham include classic beetroot salad and various roasted root vegetable dishes, such as the famous swede.

The Finnish Christmas table is never short of sweet pastries, such as tarts with prunes, and rice pudding, which is mainly eaten for breakfast. One of the most popular Christmas activities is decorating gingerbread cookies, which then hang on the Christmas tree.

The popular Finnish Christmas hot drink is “glögi” – a type of mulled wine. It is usually made from red wine or fruit juice mixed with spices, such as cardamom and cinnamon, and is served with almonds and raisins.

Image of a traditional Finnish wooded cup with mulled wine.
Mulled wine, aka glögi in Finland

Christmas Tree and Santa Claus

Christmas tree is a must-have in each Finnish household. Decorated with beautiful ornaments and various multicolored lights, it brings joy and bliss to the people. The main character of the winter holidays all around the globe, Santa Claus is starting his gift-giving journey from Northern Finland, Lapland. In case you did not know, all the letters addressed to Santa are going straight to his office in Rovaniemi. At his official home in Lapland, you can meet him in person. And in Finland Santa knocks on the door instead of coming from the chimney!

Santa Clause home in Rovaniemi, Finland. Christmas tree in Finland during Christmas time.

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