Did you know that if you wrote a letter addressed to ‘Santa Claus, North pole’, it would find its way to Rovaniemi, Finland. Long touted as the home of Santa Claus or Joulupukki in Finnish, Finland celebrates Christmas much the way it is in America, though they do have certain traditions that are unique to them. The Finnish word for Christmas is Joulukuu, literally Christmas month. When you think of a white Christmas complete with the spruce trees and snow everywhere, picture Finland, which is the reason
why Lapland is crowded with people looking for a real white Christmas each year, including Posh and Becks in 2004!
Pikku-Joulu (little Christmas)
Christmas is an industry by itself in Finland. It is the busiest time of the year for FinnAir which advertises itself as ‘Santa’s official airline.’ The term Season’s greetings takes on a whole new meaning in this country. The pikku-joulu (little Christmas) season starts around mid November. It is basically a series of parties, and events. Not only will you have to attend corporate parties, but neighborhood events, sport club parties, and parties at the local community hall. It is an almost maddening state of affairs and we are still talking four weeks before Christmas! Its impossible to get a table at any restaurant at this time of the year, so much is the demand for celebration.
A typical Finnish Christmas would occur much like the American Christmas. On Christmas Eve morning, people eat rice and porridge and plum fruit juice. Next they decorate a spruce tree, just like the festive Christmas tree found in many homes in America. At noon, a famous speech is broadcast on radio and television called "the peace of Christmas." The mayor of the Finnish city of Turku says this speech. At night, a traditional Christmas dinner is eaten. Casseroles of macaroni, rutabaga, carrot and potato fill the tables with food and the houses with mouth-watering smells. A ham or turkey is also cooked for this dinner.
Proclamation Of Christmas Peace
The official start to Christmas Eve, is the Proclamation of Christmas Peace from the city of Turku at noon. It is broadcasted all over Europe, and is a tradition which dates back to the 14th century. The proclamation starts with a message of peace to all-:
"Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully"
One of the main reasons that Christmas is so popular in Finland is the fact that it serves as a welcome distraction from the weather which is usually below 0 degrees Celsius. Regardless, its one of those places where you can find a perfect blend of modernity with age-old traditions in the celebration of this joyous festival.