While in many countries around the world Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, in Finland the most important day of Christmas is the 24th, Christmas Eve. On this day, Finns will gather for Christmas dinner with their families and loved ones, visit the Christmas sauna and church, listen to Christmas carols and open their Christmas presents that Santa Claus will bring them in the evening.
The declaration of Christmas peace is an important Christmas eve tradition in Finnish culture. It takes place at Turku’s Old Market Square at 12.00, and it can be attended in person and it’s broadcasted in TV. As of this declaration, Christmas peace is valid for 20 days onwards. It is a tradition that has been repeated since the 17th century and is designed to make people respect the celebration of midwinter.
What can international students do on Christmas?
There are many businesses that have their doors open on Christmas Eve! Many Finnish restaurants have Christmas menus – it is not unusual to book a table and enjoy a Christmas eve’s meal together with friends and family. There are also various cruise lines offering Christmas cruises either inside Finland and it’s many lakes, or to one of Finland’s neighboring European countries. Various public saunas are open and welcome guests to enjoy a Christmas sauna and a dip into the icy lake!
A Trip to Rovaniemi
The most famous Christmas destination in Finland is of course the capital of Lapland – Rovaniemi. Lapland offers various winter adventures and unforgettable Christmas landscapes right at the Arctic circle. It is also the home of the official Santa Claus village, including snow safaris, husky parks, reindeer farms and The Snowman World. This theme park is open every day of the year – including Christmas eve and Christmas day. If you’re lucky, you will get to see the Northern Lights!
Time of calmness
The Finnish way of celebrating Christmas is not extravagance – it’s peace and quiet. It’s the darkest time of the year, which means you have the best excuse to calm down and let your mind and body recharge. Perhaps take a walk outside in the crispy winter weather to enjoy nature and have a peaceful evening in warm candlelight. No matter where you are in Finland, you will be able to enjoy the Finnish Christmas spirit, breathe in and take a break from your responsibilities.