8 Finnish Christmas facts most foreigners don't know
Looking for some interesting and unique facts about Christmas in Finland, which visitors don't know? Check out our list of 8 little-known facts about Finnish Christmas traditions. From the origins of Santa Claus to the national holiday of joulu, there's plenty to learn about Finland's holiday season.
1. Christmas Eve is more important than Christmas Day
Many Finns spend Christmas Eve at home with their families, enjoying a festive meal and opening gifts. Christmas Day is often spent relaxing and enjoying leftovers from the previous day's feast.
2. The Finnish Santa Claus is known as " joulupukki"
Joulupukki literally means Christmas goat and unlike his American counterpart, he does not live at the North Pole. Instead he lives on korvatunturi, a mountain in Lapland.
3. Traditionally, Christmas trees were't decorated until Christmas Eve
Finnish Christmas trees are spruce trees. Traditionally, there were always brought and decorated on Christmas Eve morning. Although these days people often decorate earlier.
4. In Finland, Santa Claus is said to arrive on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day
On the night of December 24th, children excitedly await for a visit from Joulupukki who often visits them in person.
5. Finnish Christmas carols are often very sad
Varpunen jouluaamuna" (Sparrow on a Christmas Morning), for example, tells a story of a girl and her dead little brother. The brother has died of famine, but visits the girl on Christmas morning in a shape of a sparrow. “The morsel of food you offered brought me from the land on angels." While “Hei tonttu-ukot hyppikää” (Jump, Christmas Elves) reminds us, that “life is short, and it’s mostly dark and gloomy”.
6. Finnish Christmas dinner is typically a feast of hearty dishes such as roast ham
Baked salmon, and various casseroles and stews are feasted upon too. Dessert is also an important part of the meal, and often includes cookies, gingerbread, and various pastries.
7. Christmas is known as "joulu"
This comes from the ancient Germanic name for the winter solstice celebrated before Christianity, Yule. This was a time of celebration and feasting, and many of the traditions associated with the holiday have their origins in this ancient festival.
8. Finland officially declares Christmas a peaceful time
Every year, at noon on Christmas Eve, the Christmas Peace is declared from the city of Turku. The declaration, which has been proclaimed since the 1300s, is read out loud to remind people that Christmas peace has begun, to advise people to spend the festive period in harmony, to threaten offenders with harsh punishments, and to wish all a merry Christmas.