The Finns believe that Santa Claus or Santa Claus live in the northern part of Finland called Korvatunturi (or Lapland), north of the Arctic Circle.
People from all over the world send letters to Santa Claus in Finland. There is a large tourist theme park called “Christmas Land” in northern Finland, near where they say Santa lives.
It means that Santa does not have to travel far on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts to people in Finland! If you do not have the opportunity to deliver the gifts personally, you will often leave them under the Christmas tree.
In Finland, Santa could also be known as Joulupukki! (This really means ‘Christmas Goat’, since it was traditional in Finland the fact that there was a Yule Goat that was scary and asked people for gifts, and it certainly did not give way on the obligations to give gifts, but the name of Christmas Goat was still preserved in Finland!) Joulupukki mounts with reindeer leaves gifts under the Christmas tree, but if he has been naughty, he could end up with a bag of coal!
In Finnish Happy / Merry Christmas is ‘Hyvää joulua’. In northern Sami, spoken in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, it is ‘Buorit Juovllat’.
All try to be at home at Christmas, including fishermen who try to take their boats to the port on December 21, day of St. Thomas.
Animals receive their own Christmas in Finland, where farmers sometimes hang a sheaf of wheat on a tree to be eaten and pecked by birds. Nuts and pieces of tallow are also hung on the trees in bags from the branches.
Everyone cleans their homes ready for the three Christmas holidays: Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day.
On Christmas Eve, or the day before, Christmas trees are bought at the local market or in the square. The seller expects you to negotiate with them about the price.
Christmas Eve is very special and the most important day at Christmas. It is traditional to eat rice porridge and plum juice for breakfast. Then the tree is bought (if it has not already done so) and it is decorated. At noon, the mayor of the city of Turku (which is southern Finland) broadcasts the “peace of Christmas” on radio and television.
Because it gets very dark in most parts of Finland around Christmas (around 3:00 p.m.), it is now traditional to go to the cemeteries and visit the tombs of family members. Some cemeteries are huge and the police are working to handle the traffic, but everyone must walk the last few meters to the grave. Around the tomb remain candles in the hanging lanterns, often many members of the family go. The entire cemetery is illuminated with bright lanterns that shine in the snow, a winter wonderland.
Other people like a sauna on Christmas Eve.
The main Christmas meal is eaten in the afternoon. The leatherfish (salty fish) is the traditional initiator, but it is not so common today. The main meal is a leg of pork served with mashed potatoes traditionally cooked slowly in boxes of birch bark in the oven with mashed potato cooked in a similar manner. Casseroles containing different vegetables are also common, including kohlrabi, carrots and potatoes. Cured salmon is very popular and some people also have turkey. The desert is baked rice pudding / oatmeal eaten with plum jam with spices. An almond is hidden in the pudding. Whoever finds the almond will be lucky for next year.
After lunch, Joulupukki (Santa) could visit the house! When he enters with his coat, he asks if there are any children living there. They respond very loudly! Then, next, ask if they have been good throughout the year. When they receive their gifts, the whole family gathers to see the fun of opening. After opening some gifts, it’s time to go to bed, but some people like to stay up all night to see Christmas Day arrive!
Christmas day is much quieter and families often spend quietly at home. In Boxing Day people like to go out. Skiing is popular along flat terrain or skating if the lake or river has been frozen.