Meta: A look at Christmas traditions from Finland.
For those wondering where on earth Finland is, it’s a European country that has the fewest amounts of residents in its borders of all members of the European Union and it also has the second longest tunnel. The Finnish consume the largest amounts of coffee in the world, even more than Americans and they happen to be the last European country to undergo the transition to Christianity, however they have many Christmas traditions that we felt obliged to share with you. Who knows you may just end up wanting to spend your Christmas in Finland, after all?
The Finnish people truly believe that Father Christmas or Santa to you and me lives within the most northern region of their country, an area known as Lapland or Korvatunturi. Thousands of people from every corner of the globe send letters to Finland in the hopes that it reaches Father Christmas himself, the Finnish even have a special theme park near where Santa Clause is supposed to live called Christmas Land that is truly a sight to behold.
However in Finland they don’t merely call Santa, Father Christmas, no they have a preferred nickname which when translated becomes Christmas Goat. Wondering what it is, well Joulupukki is an alternative name for Santa Clause, the theme of the Christmas Goat stems from an ancient tale of a Yule Goat who would roam the towns, searching for someone to give him presents but never giving presents to others in return. However, over the centuries, the story changed to have the Yule Goat begin to hand out gifts as well and therefore the title of Christmas Goat or rather Santa replaced the traditional fable.
In much the same way as the traditional Christmas, Santa rides in a sleigh pulled by reindeers and leaves presents for the good children under the Christmas tree and bad children may receive coal instead. In Finland, everyone is involved in the Christmas celebrations including the animals, many farmers will leave special wheat or hay out for their animals to feast on, while dogs and cats may be given special treats or chew toys as gifts on Christmas Day.
However, if you thought it was all fun and games in Christmas time, unfortunately there is a cultural tradition of intense decluttering, organization and general cleaning in the run up to Christmas so as to signify the specialness of the religious event. To the Finnish Christmas Eve is the grandest day of the festive season, people go out and buy their trees, decorate them with a whole bunch of baubles and lights, and a special broadcast is done on both TV and radio stations by the mayor.
The deep darkness that crawls over Finland during winter, lends itself to a more somber mood, therefore on Christmas many families go out to visit their loved ones in the cemeteries, clean the tombs, leave candles and flowers. It can get so busy that traffic officers are required to direct the flow of people coming to the cemeteries.
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Finland Flag link:
Christmas Goat link:
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