Photo: Samuli Repo
Christmas in Finland
As in other countries with a longer Christian history, Christmas marks an important time in the Finnish calendar. It is the time of the year when all stores are closed and the stress of everyday life suddenly feels so far away, cozied up at home with a good book and no other place to be. For students it also marks the end of the autumn semester. While on the surface Finnish Christmas does not seem much different from celebrations in other countries, some noteworthy features can be observed.
The undisputed most important thing about Christmas in Finland is plenty of food in various forms enjoyed with the family, from a big assortment of fish for starters (“kalapöytä”) to the traditional Finnish Christmas ham (“joulukinkku”) and berry based mulled wine (“glögi”). On a close second place, the traditional Christmas sauna can be found, whose preparation and implementation can take up a considerable amount of time.
And let's not forget the decorated Christmas tree ("joulukuusi") under which Santa Claus usually places the presents on Christmas Eve!
Another popular thing to do is to go to your neighborhood church and listen to beautiful Christmas choirs, or travel through the country and visit family that one does not often manage to see. For international students who stay in Finland during Christmas, close study friends can become like family over Christmas.
Jens Närger, CIMO