As Christmas is fast approaching, EM finds out about different holiday traditions from around the world. Today, we look at how Finnish people commemorate this occasion, Finland’s Lapland being the ‘home of Santa’.
Seija Laitinen, an exchange student, says that it will be her first Christmas abroad, but that there are a lot of Christmas traditions that she will miss. “Holidays here, and in Brugge where I will celebrate it with my boyfriend, don’t feel the same without snow and -25C temperatures.”However, there are a lot of traditions that Seija is excited to talk about.
Cemetery, Sauna, and Dinner
Christmas Eve instead of Christmas day is the most important during the holiday season. First, Finns pay their respects to their departed relatives, by visiting their graves where “the sea of lit candles is an impressive sight”. Then, quite typically, a Finnish sauna follows before joining family and relatives for a dinner and filling themselves with ham, potatoes and red beet salad.
In the morning, Santa has already visited every child in Finland from his Polar circle home. The Christmas day itself has a relaxed atmosphere, where people read the books that they receive as presents and eat loads of food and sweets. And lastly, the tradition from 19th century without which no Finnish Christmas celebration is complete is the rice porridge. “The person preparing the porridge adds one almond in it. The person who gets the nut will have good luck for the next year”.
So have a merry Christmas, in other words – Hyvää joulua, and enjoy a nice bowl of rice porridge. MD