Christmas card from Finland.
(Hello in Finnish!)
Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in Finland, and Christmas celebrations in Finland are build around ancient Nordic Christmas traditions. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day, known in Finland as St. Stephen's Day, are all public holidays in Finland.
Finnish people believe that Santa Claus or Father Christmas lives in north part of Finland called Korvatunturi (or Lapland), north of the Arctic circle.
How do they celebrate Christmas in Finland?
Everyone cleans their houses ready for the three holy days of Christmas. Animals are given their own Christmas, with farmers sometimes hanging a sheaf of wheat on a tree to be eaten and pecked at by the birds. Nuts and pieces of suet are also hung on trees in bags from the branches.
The first Sunday in December (also called the First Advent) starts the Finnish Christmas season. Many children use advent calendars that count down the remaining days to Christmas Eve.
December 13 is the day of Saint Lucia, who is celebrated with lots of candles and formal celebrations in every town with a candle-crowned young girl. The time for Scandinavian Christmas tree shopping and decorating is coming and Christmas cards are being exchanged.
Everyone tries to be at home for Christmas, including fisherman who try to get their boats into the harbour by December 21st, St.Thomas's Day.
Christmas Eve is very special, when people eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice in the morning. They will then decorate a spruce tree in the home. At midday, the "peace of Christmas" is broadcast on radio and TV by the City Mayor of Turku (which is south Finland). Then they visit Finnish sauna, of course. Visiting the cemetery forms part of many Finns' Christmas rituals. Hey, its not as morbid as it might sound!
Between 5-7pm on Christmas Eve, Christmas dinner is served. Families and friends gather together to share the warm, festive atmosphere of the evening and enjoy the various traditional Christmas dishes. Oven-baked ham, root vegetable casserole, mixed beetroot salad, liver casserole and pates, meat aspics, gravlax or Christmas Eve and herring dishes form the basis of the traditional Finnish Christmas dinner.
The three most essential dishes on Finnish Christmas tables are Oven-baked ham, rutabaga casserole and mixed beetroot salad. without the taste of the traditional dishes, there would be something missing in Finnish Christmas celebration.
In picture on right, clockwise from top right: slices of baked ham, rutabaga casserole, beetroot salad, homemade mustard, sweet pea sauce.
Christmas in Finland officially ends 13days after Chrismas Day.
Christmas gifts may be given out before or after the dinner. The children do not hang up stockings, but Santa Claus comes in person, often accompanied by as many as half a dozen Christmas elves to distribute the presents.
And last but not least, dont forget that "Merry Christmas" in Finnish is 'Hyvää Joulua'!
You can learn more about Finland here :)
You will find recipes for some of the dishes mentioned above in here :)
Hauskaa päivän jatkoa!
(Have a nice day!)