Christmas in Finland
Finnish people believe that Santa Claus or Father Christmas lives in the north 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 big tourist theme park called 'Christmas Land' in the north of Finland, near to where they say that Father Christmas lives.
It means that Santa doesn't have far to travel on Christmas Eve to deliver presents to people in Finland! If he doesn't get a chance to deliver the present personally he will often leave them under the Christmas Tree.
In Finland, Santa might also be known as Joulupukki! (This really means 'Christmas Goat' as it was traditional in Finland that there was a Yule Goat who was scary and asked people for presents - and certainly didn't give any out! Over time the goat became the gift giver and then Santa took over the gift giving duties but the name of the Christmas Goat was still retained in Finland!) Joulupukki rides with reindeer leaves gifts under the Christmas tree but if you have been naughty you could end up with a bag of coal!
In Finnish Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Hyvää Joulua'. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
Everyone tries to be at home for Christmas, including fishermen who try to get their boats into the harbour by December 21st, St. Thomas' Day
Animals are given their own Christmas in Finland, with farmers sometimes hanging a sheaf of wheat on a tree to be eaten and pecked at by the birds. Nuts and pieces of suet are also hung on trees in bags from the branches.
Everyone cleans their houses ready for the three holy days of Christmas - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. Christmas Eve is very special, when people eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice in the morning. They will then decorate a spruce tree in the home. At midday, the 'peace of Christmas' is broadcast on radio and TV by the City Mayor of Turku (which is south Finland). In the evening, a traditional Christmas dinner is eaten. The meal will include 'casseroles' containing different vegetables including, rutabaga, carrot and potato. Cured salmon is very popular and some people also have turkey. A yule ham is found in every home and is served with very spicy mustard, often home made. Rice pudding is indeed eaten with plum spiced jam. The tradition is to hide one almond to the porridge. Whoever find the almond is meant to be lucky for the next year.
Also on Christmas Eve, many people visit the graves of relatives and light candles to remember them. Other people like a sauna on Christmas Eve.