A VERY FINNISH CHRISTMAS
Finnish Christmas Trivia
To ring in the holiday season we thought we’d share a little Finnish Christmas Trivia with you.
Let’s start out by getting our geographical bearings-
What countries/bodies of water surround Finland?
Oona Räisänen (Mysid) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (Image Right)
Finland is surrounded by three countries: Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east. It also touches three larger bodies of water: the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland.
Fun fact: the shape of Finland’s boundaries resemble a person with one hand raised in the air, sometimes paralleled with the national personification of the country, the Maiden of Finland.
There are three holy days of Christmas in Finland. What are they?
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day are the the three holy days. The most celebrated day is Christmas Eve. Traditionally, rice porridge and plum fruit juice are served for breakfast. The porridge contains one almond, and the person lucky enough to get the almond in their bowl is considered the luckiest.There is also ‘the Peace of Christmas,’ which is declared mid-day on Christmas Eve. The Peace of Christmas is broadcast on television by the Major of Turku, a city in the south of Finland. It is a tradition that dates back to the 13th century declaring that those who commit crimes on a religious holiday will receive a harsher punishment. Today, it is a reminder to all to behave respectfully and peacefully during the three holy days of Christmas.
Name three popular Finnish Christmas traditions?
1) Sauna, Sauna, Sauna! It gets dark very early in Finland, especially around Christmas time. In order to stay warm and keep the spirits bright, many families will take a sauna on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both.
2) It is also a tradition to go to cemeteries and visit loved ones who have passed away. Candles are lit and lanterns hung, bringing a little light to the darkness.
3) Some families will also go to Christmas mass and listen to the Gospel story on Christmas Eve.
How many hours of daylight does Finland get in December?
In the south of Finland there are only about six hours of daylight during the month of December. The sun rises around 9:20am and sets around 3:20pm.
In the northernmost parts, the sun does not rise above the horizon all winter long (but the Northern lights might just be worth it).
Fun Fact: In the summer, the southern parts of Finland get between 18-19 hours of sunlight a day and in the north, 24 hours!
If you are interested in weather and temperature in Finland check out the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Is there a Finnish Santa Claus?
Yes. According to the Fins he lives north of the Arctic Circle at Korvatunturi, a mountain peak in Lapland. Santa is sometimes referred to as Joulupukki (translated, the Christmas Goat), which stems from an old Scandinavian custom. Joulupukki travels by land in a sleigh that is pulled by Finnish reindeer (that do not fly). He travels on Christmas Eve, leaving gifts under the tree for good boys and girls. Sometimes he stops by the houses after dinner and distributes gift in person.
Fun fact: It is typical for Joulupukki to receive over 500,000 letters from over 200 countries every year.
Joulupukki (The Finnish Santa Claus) (Image right)
What is the height of Korvatunturi, the peak where Santa lives?
1,437 ft. (483 m)
What are the traditional foods eaten at Christmas time in Finland?
Here are just a few: oven-baked ham, lanttulaatikko (rutabaga casserole), beetroot salad, salted salmon, herring, piparkakut (gingerbread cookies), and Joulutortut (Christmas pastries)
If you’re looking for more inspiration click here for traditional Finnish Christmas recipes.
Joulutortut (Christmas pastries)
How do you say Merry Christmas in Finnish?
Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year) everyone and have a very Finnish Christmas (even if that just means taking a sauna or two).