Tags: christmas decorations, christmas in Finland, christmas traditions, christmas wreaths, Finland christmas traditions, nativity scenes
From towns like Ivalo to cosmopolitan Helsinki the people of Finland start celebrating the Christmas season on Advent Sunday. Four Sundays prior to Christmas, the Finnish people start cleaning their homes, putting up Christmas decorations, buying gifts and sending cards. Children are presented with Advent calendars that surprise them with one treat per day. Some calendars chocolates, some show pictures pertaining to the season and some contain a small toy. Advent calendars make the count-down to Christmas that much more fun for kids.
Decorations are lavishly put up around Finland with the most popular ones being Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, lit paper stars, straw Nordic Billy-Goats, candles and flowers. Christmas trees are decorated with lights or electric candles and decorations such as ornaments made of glass, colored balls, spark sticks and ribbons. Finns like to put new decorations up along with ones that have been passed down to remember their family history. Ornaments made by the children in the family are also proudly placed on the Christmas tree. Christmas wreaths, decorated with small ornaments, ribbons, pinecones that can be natural or painted and small clumps of berries, are hung on doorways, windows or walls. Many homes also hang a himmeli above the dining table to bring luck in the coming year. Himmeli is an old, traditional Finnish Christmas ornament. It is made with small strips of straw which are tied together with strings to form a complicated three dimensional ornament.
Food is a big part of Christmas in Finland as it is in most parts of the world. The traditional breakfast on Christmas Eve is rice pudding with cinnamon and sugar. This hearty breakfast warms everyone up before they head out into the cold to get the Christmas tree and to finish up last minute shopping. Christmas dinner usually consists of ham as well as other meat dishes such as liver casserole, Karelian stew and cold cuts. Other foods include lute fish, cheeses, breads, pâté, potatoes and rutabaga. Desserts include gingerbread cookies, fruitcake, prune mousse, chocolates and marzipan and finishes up with glögg, or mulled wine.
Christmas is a time for traditions and customs and a favorite custom in Finland is to head to the sauna baths after Christmas Eve lunch. Not only is this an age-old tradition, it is also a wonderful way to unwind before the festivities begin. A trip to the cemetery is also an old custom. This is to leave candles on the graves of family and friends who have passed away and can no longer be with loved ones for the holiday season.
Christmas in Finland is a 3-day celebration running from December 24th to December 26th. Children receive presents from Santa Claus who is believed to live in Korvatunturi, Finland, family and friends spend lots of time together and animals are included in the celebrations since, after all, Christmas is the season for sharing.
Karen Jebbia is a marketing associate of Acadia Wreath Company which sells fresh Christmas wreaths, christmas centerpieces, advent wreaths and kissing balls made with Maine balsam fir and shipped throughout the United States at Christmas time. Visit us at www.acadiawreath.com.