We all have our own little traditions at Christmas time; from the standard turkey dinner to the ever-unworn jumpers we pretend to be delighted with. But in Finland they’ve got a few customs that leave our dreary itchy knitwear for standing!
For starters, the Finnish have a television broadcast more historic than the Queen’s Speech! Every Christmas Eve, most families gather round the TV to watch the reading of the Declaration of Christmas Peace. The Declaration started off being read out in the town square but, as times have changed, traditions have been adapted, but not forgotten. The Declaration has been read every year, save one, for almost 700 years!
After they’ve watched this, the Finns go out for a nice family sauna - one way to keep warm in Lapland I suppose! But what is really different is that whilst Christmas Eve for us is a night of excitement, anticipation and last minute preparations, in Finland it’s the main event. This is the night the family enjoy a big Christmas buffet of oven baked ham, vegetable casserole, herring and smoked salmon before a visit from Father Christmas.
Many children across Britain know that Father Christmas lives in Lapland and long to go to the snowy north to meet him in person. Well, the same holds true in Finland except, of course, they’re already in Lapland. It’s fairly common knowledge, therefore, that the man himself lives on the mountain of Korvatutunri in Savukoski and that he delivers to Finnish children first. Super express delivery with no extra charge!
So, once Father Christmas has gone and the kids are tucked in having opened their array of toys, what happens? Does Christmas in Finland start early and finish early too? Not a chance! The 25th is spent surrounded by family with reunions and get-togethers taking place right across the country. But these are a little different as well; my idea of a family Christmas centres around a lovely meal, drinks all round and partying well into the night. In Finland however, Christmas Day gatherings are firmly focussed on children so there’s little or no alcohol at all!
Boxing Day makes up for that though. It’s the last day of Christmas so the Finns send out the festive season in style with parties in houses, clubs and bars right across the country! Back at home, Boxing Day for me is the traditional trip to watch the local footy team lose, yet again, on a rain-soaked, chilly winter day. Thinking about it, maybe I’ll make this year a little different and hop on a flight to Finland to enjoy some rather more appealing festive traditions!
If a Finnish Christmas sounds like your kind of festive break, try a Lapland Christmas at Harriniva tour and enjoy the season’s celebrations.