Finnish Holidays: A Traditional Christmas Day in Finland

Christmas in Finland is one of the best seasons of the year and everyone is looking forward to it! But do you know how Finnish people spend Christmas?

Finland starts celebrating joulu (Christmas in Finnish) on the 24th of December. This is the time when families reunite and enjoy the holidays together. Already on the evening of the 23rd people start to cook for joulupöytä (Christmas table). The 25th of December is for visiting relatives who live far away from home.

Finnish christmas table full of food
Traditional Finnish Christmas dishes

One of the most prominent symbols of Christmas, besides Santa Claus, is joulukinkku (Christmas ham). Cooked overnight for at least 5 hours, the savory and sweet smell of the ham wakes up the entire family in the morning! Everyone eats ham for breakfast or at a Christmas dinner in the evening, washing it down with unforgettable Finnish coffee and glögi (mulled wine).

Glögi is a warm drink, that can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. It is made with different spices, like cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Very tasty and sweet!

A glass of mulled wine on a table with a small Christmas tree
A glass of glögi

At lunch, Christmas porridge is the main dish. The porridge is made of rice and topped with sugar and cinnamon or prune soup, depending on your taste.  The lucky person who finds an almond in the porridge can make a wish!

After lunch, there is the Christmas sauna, which has been part of Finnish culture and tradition for centuries. People go to sauna to relax and to enjoy the heat of the hot steam, while outside is snowing and cold. In the late afternoon, Finnish people go to church to participate in the Christmas mass and to sing Christmas hymns.

When the mass is concluded, families go back to their homes to have a Christmas dinner, with joulukinkku, turnip casserole, sweetened potato casserole, salted salmon, Christmas pastries and gingerbread cookies. Sounds delicious!

Cutting Finnish Christmas ham, baked potatoes in a serving dish
Finnish holidays and traditions

After dinner, Santa Claus makes an appearance and gives gifts to children who have been nice the whole year! Then, the rest of the evening is spend chilling and relaxing together with your family and relative..

Many people take this day also as an occasion to visit their deceased relatives at the graveyard and light a candle to remember them.

Graveyard at night in Finland with a sea of lit candles
Finnish traditions and things to know about Finland

We wish you a happy, joyful and merry Christmas!

Hyvää joulua kaikille!

Check our blog post about Finnish culture and traditions to discover more about Finland!

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