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What Really Happens at Finnish Homes at Christmas

Finnish Christmas season is notorious for too-high expectations among all family members, big and small.

Our biggest celebration happens on 24 December. The two following days are a slumber party at home.

By the evening of Boxing Day, everyone has had an overdose of family time and swears that they will never eat chocolate again.

If the Christmas tree has not burnt and if everybody is still talking to each other, we can congratulate ourselves for a successful holiday.

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So what really happens on Christmas Eve in Finland?

The Finnish Christmas Routines for a Kid

  • Wake up impatient at 6 am.
  • Decide that you want to participate on Santa Claus Hotline (a TV-show, in which Santa takes children’s calls. It runs only on that morning.). Make everyone in your family try to reach Santa with their phones so nobody can do anything else. When you get to speak to Santa, sing a song. Your dad records this horrible version of Jingle Bells. He will later show it to your boyfriend.
  • Watch The Snowman even though you feel like crying at the end.
  • Try to find the good-luck almond hidden in the rice porridge you have for lunch. Throw a tantrum if you don’t find one.
  • Fidget in the Christmas church.
  • Fidget in the Christmas sauna.
  • Barely eat the Christmas dinner because you know that Santa always comes after dinner.
  • Experience how the last hour before Santa arrives feels like 100 years.
  • Open all gifts in 30 seconds.
  • Play the following 3 hours with the wrapping paper and strings.
  • Challenge for the following two days: break the most expensive toy you got.

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The Finnish Christmas Routines for a Youngster

  • Wake up whenever.
  • Realize that you are at your parent as you see your old bedroom which is a high-school museum curated by your mom.
  • Feel a bit irritated and restless because the Xmas doesn’t feel like it used to.
  • Watch The Snowman even though you feel like crying at the end.
  • Oh, you got the almond in the rice porridge. Again… What a surprise.
  • Skip the church and sauna.
  • Snapchat or Instagram. Nothing is happening there.
  • Facebook is for old people; you don’t even open it.
  • Eat the Christmas dinner until you are about the explode.
  • Proceed to salt-sweet cycle snacking (When you are utterly full after dessert and cannot eat anymore, take a minibreak. Then do this: eat something salty, like a cracker with cheese. Suddenly, you can eat some chocolate. Repeat the same, entire evening.)
  • Snapchat or Instagram. Nothing. Seriously?
  • Open Facebook. Wonder how lame things everybody is posting.
  • Expect no gifts for you. That’s because every gift you want is only available in an online store. Your family sent you the money to buy your gifts yourself because they are insecure about buying online. Also, they know, that you may have already changed your mind and want something else. So it’s a win-win.
  • You get a pair of woolen socks and a huge chocolate box because you cannot be receiving zero gifts on a Christmas Eve! Did I already write that it’s a double win for you?
  • Insert here a light grin.
  • Snapchat, TikTok or Instagram. Wonder why the time is going by so slowly.
  • Smart move: Call a panic call to your mother before Christmas about how busy you are. Whine that you don’t know what anybody wants for presents. Result: You weasel your way out buying presents as she agrees that you can co-give their gifts.Finnish christmas cookies

The Finnish Christmas Routines for an Adult

  • Wake up at 6 am because you have tons of preparation to do.
  • Get angry with the laptop for not accepting your credit card when trying to buy the last gift. Be sure that now some hackers in that online-store have your credit info and just booked a trip to the Bahamas. Those lucky little vermins.
  • Give all other people distractions so that you can focus on work.
  • Watch the Snowman -song part of the movie. Feel like crying even though you are not able to see the end.
  • Burn at least one dish and linger in stress mode.
  • Remember to hide the almond in the porridge of the person who gets the biggest tantrum. If you are a smart cookie, break the almond into a half, exclaim “Christmas miracle!” at the right time and get two happy faces.
  • Look at your family in the Christmas church, all in their thoughts, and smile.
  • Relax a bit in the Christmas sauna until the youngest of the family pees to the sauna stove, and you have to emergency evacuate.
  • Eat the Christmas dinner until you are about the explode.
  • Proceed to salt-sweet cycle snacking.
  • Enjoy watching everyone opening presents. What a joyous experience that always is!
  • Wonder why the hell you spent 120 euros for a talking robot fox when just wrapping paper would have been enough.
  • Play late night card games so vigorously that you get into a game fight with your spouse.
  • A season headache: There was once again too much food prepared for the holidays. You are nature-aware and don’t want to create food wastage. Wonder how to force-feed the left-overs as new dishes to everybody on the following days.

Does this sound familiar? Or are you able to have a stress-free Xmas? How do you make it happen? I’d love to know, so comment below!

Looking for more Christmassy information about Finland? Check out some of my other posts:

About Varpu
I’m the founder of Her Finland. I love cultural tidbits, aha moments, Finnish folklore, and cinnamon buns. My newest interest is learning bird songs. Read more about me..

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Thursday 15th of December 2022

Going out to the woods to cut the Christmas tree. Saranpaa farm in Waasa Township Embarrass, MN.

Stopping at the Santi's and Saranpaa's to exchange presents and listen to the parents sit all night in the kitchen drinking kahvia and BSing in Finnish.

Having to smell the syltyy when my father was making it! He'd give it as gifts to our family friends and we'd make all the rounds to deliver it to those old Finns who had been waiting all year for it. And of course they would have a glass of Christmas cheer (Blackberry brandy) to celebrate.

Christmas Eve sauna.

Lipeakala ja peruna supper.

Midnight candlelight Finnish services at the Messiah (Suomi Synod) Lutheran Church in Mountain Iron, MN. Singing Jouluyo.

Christmas Day, off to my maternal grandparents farm, the Teinila's, in Waasa Township Embarrass, MN.

How does that differ from Christmas time in Finland?


Saturday 21st of January 2017

For Christmas is a habit to make:

Himmeli - Finnish tradition.

Happy weekend.

Varpu Poyry

Monday 23rd of January 2017

Indeed. These hanging thatch formations are an old tradition in Finland. They are a bit in fashion too, as you can find similar made of black drinking straws in Pinterest!

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