Christmas in Lapland

You can meet Santa Claus also on ski resorts. Photo: Visit Finland, Juho Kuva
You can meet Santa Claus also on ski resorts. Photo: Visit Finland, Juho Kuva

Imagine the quintessential Christmas you’ve grown to love. Do you think of family dinners on Christmas Day, novelty sweaters or stockings hanging by the fireplace? None of that is part of Finnish Christmas traditions. What’s it like then?

First off, Santa Claus, known as Joulupukki, is from Finland. Korvatunturi, to be exact. He also has a workshop at the Arctic Circle, where he receives millions of letters from around the world through his own post office. You can meet the cheery old man 365 days a year – just head to Rovaniemi and visit his village!

While Finns start preparing for Christmas early in December, visitors can wait until a few days before Christmas Eve to experience the quintessential Lappish Christmas. Arriving in a winter wonderland covered in white snow will surely get you in the holiday mood!

Magical Christmas dinner

As December 24th arrives, the morning starts with rice porridge. If you partake, know that a single almond is hidden in the pot, and whoever finds the almond gets a prize – maybe the privilege of opening one present earlier than others. You can spend the day outside skiing or just enjoying the outdoors while hearty traditional dishes are cooked in reward for the hard work endured all year.

As evening nears, families gather for dinner, exchanging well-wishes and feasting on the plethora of dishes on offer – too many to name here. But remember to try the traditional casseroles, cured salmon and rosolli, which is a beetroot salad.

Then finally, the moment has come: Santa will visit you personally and hand out gifts to all in attendance. The rest of the night is spent playing with new toys and revelling in the relaxed merriment, while some might take a nap only to return to the dinner table with newfound appetite.

Christmas time is skiing time

For the following day, Finland is effectively shut down, and time is spent with the immediate family, enjoying leftovers, books and traditional movies. Of course you can go skiing or out for dinner, as ski resorts are open every day. People will come out of hiding the next day and venture out to the shops or other errands. Boxing Day evening sees bars full of students catching up with friends who are also home for Christmas.

Then, it is time to start preparing for New Year’s Eve. But you don’t want the celebrations to get too wild – after all, the elves are out there and Christmas is just around the corner.

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