Christmas in Finland
Christmas begins at the night of the 23rd after the kids have gone to bed. Adults stay up late drinking coffee, making food, decorating and organizing so that when children wake up early the next day, the house is clean and smells good.
Kids wake up before dawn, open their calendars and go downstairs to watch telly.
For breakfast we eat rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar, and cold milk. There’s an almond hidden in the porridge and it’s said that whoever gets it will be very lucky or get married the next year.
The animals also have to have their Christmas, so kids give special treats to their pets. We take a wheat bunch outside to the little birds.
In the midst of all the cooking, adults sip glogg with raisins and nuts. Also satsumas are essential in my family.
Kids go see some relatives with their father and take candles to the grave yard. We watch the declaration of Christmas peace from Turku.
Sauna is naturally an important part of the Finnish Christmas.
Before dinner we usually have some entertainment in my family. Me, my mother, and aunts act a play called “Tiernapojat” (supposed to be played by 4 boys actually). It’s about the three wise men of the east, and its origins are in the middle ages.
Children play piano and sing Christmas carols.
The Christmas dinner is of course the most important part of the day. We eat, for example, ham with mustard, carrot and potato and lanttu (don’t know the English word for it) casserole, boiled peas and potatoes, rosolli (a salad with red beats etc.) herring, mushroom salad, home made cheese and loads more.
We drink beer, wine and the usual beverages.
For desert there’s coffee, kaffe bulla, gingerbread cookies (kids usually make a gingerbread house), and plum pudding.
After the dinner Father Christmas comes and gives out presents. When kids have opened theirs, they go up to their rooms to play and fall asleep almost immediately as the day has been so exciting.
Adults stay up sipping brandy and whiskey and play games, such as Trivial Pursuit, and chat.
The next day, Christmas Day, is not as important in Finland as in other countries. Some families go to church in the morning, the tradition is if a family lives in the country side, they wake up really early Christmas morning and take a sleigh to church. And there are two candles burning on every window, as an old Finnish song says…
My family isn’t very religious, so we just sleep late, read our gift books and eat chocolates. But in the evening people come to visit and we dress up nicely and eat together. So as Christmas Eve is the time for celebration, so is the Christmas Day a time for peace.
On Boxing Day there are no special traditions except in my family my grandma and aunt eat “lipeäkala”, fish, a traditional Christmas dish, as they are the only ones who like it.