Christmas and the New Year in Finland

There are some typical foods and drinks consumed in the Christmas season; they are listed here in Finnish and English:

kinkku – ham
porkkanalaatikko – carrot casserole
lanttulaatikko – swede casserole
perunalaatikko – potato casserole
perunat – potatoes
erilaiset kalat – different fish prepared as desired, usually salmon and/or herring.
rosolli – salad that includes radish and apple
jouluolut – Christmas beer
glögi – juice based Christmas drink
suklaakonvehdit – assorted Christmas chocolates
riisipuuro, sokeri ja kaneli – rice porridge, sugar and cinnamon


Christmas trees are popular, as they are in the US. Our tree does not have lots of fancy ornaments but it still looks nice. There are a few of the presents under the tree at the moment.

Our Christmas Tree

Christmas decorations are put up according to the desire of the individual.

Christmas lights are occasionally put up outside, but I have only seen white strands; inflatable lawn ornaments and flashing, multicolored outdoor Christmas decorations are rare.

Remembering the deceased is an important part of Christmas for many people. It is common to go to the cemetery on Christmas Eve and light candles, which are left around the gravestone.

Going to Sauna on Christmas day is very common.

There are usually many opportunities to go and sing Christmas songs somewhere or listen to Christmas concerts. Many people attend at least one of these.

Going to church on Christmas Eve is as common here as in the US.

Visiting and having visitors in the days around and on Christmas is typical. My host family has visited or been visited by coworkers, cousins, family, and friends.

Santa, who lives in Lapland, comes in the evening on Christmas Eve. He enters using the front door, like a normal person.

Gift giving is common. It is, perhaps, less of a big deal than it is in the US because it is customary to bring a gift whenever you go to visit someone. The presents under the tree are usually opened in the evening on Christmas Eve.

On New Year’s Day, fireworks are set off. Many people either get some for themselves, watch those set off by others, or both.

Thank you to my host brother for helping me compile this list.

I hope that you would have a blessed Christmas and a pleasant New Year!


6 thoughts on “Christmas and the New Year in Finland

  1. Abbey Leinonen

    Hey Ben,
    Glad to hear that your experience in Finland has been and continues to be a great experience for you! Have you gotten or are you expecting any Christmas gifts from family? Are you in any school sports or extracurricular activities?
    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Abbey,

      I believe I will be getting a couple small presents, but nothing major. I’m rather pleased about it though, since my host family has already been fantastic and I need to be able to bring everything back home when all is said and done.

      Technically, I am in a dancing class at school which could be considered a sport. That’s all. I do go for walks with my host brother in the evenings and I walk a ways to school every morning, so I still get some excersize.

      I am not in any extracurricular activities here. The school is set up in such a way that you can take classes in specialized subjects (such as digital image processing, digital art, choir, and many others) which are similar to extracurricular activities in many ways but are combined with the school day. The only extracurricular activities not available through the school are sports and very specialized or particular activities.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ben,

    Our family sends you belated wishes of a Merry Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year. We have enjoyed hearing about your Finnish experiences so far this year and look forward to those yet to come. Take care and see you down the road…

    Uncle Tim, Aunt Traci, Andrew and Abbey.


  3. Jean Pemberton

    Hi Ben! I finally took time to read your December posts and enjoyed your comparisons to Christmas in Finland versus the United States. Some of your comments and observations made me think of how stoic we Finns can be, not showing emotions very easily. Your sharing of how you are growing in your faith and how God has opened doors for you for this experience are heartwarming. We miss you at church and your willingness to help whereve you can. You are also in our prayers.


  4. Don Kuiper

    Hi Ben,

    Long time no hear from you. As your French neighbors would say, “Comment t’alle vous?” or, “How you doing, eh?”

    I don’t know what the time difference is between here and there, but maybe you are snug in your bed at this very moment, dreaming of a nice warm sunny beach somewhere.

    Well, that is where I’d like to be. It has been cold and snowy here in Lake Superiorland. Car batteries giving out and people sliding through the intersections is very popular.

    The church still gets dirty and I’m still paid to clean it. That is good!

    I think you have been in Finland at least six months. The language is probably becoming very familiar to you and you can concentrate more on the its subtleties. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back here.

    I think of you often. Stay diligent, keep talking…and… here is my Finnish word of the week: leipajuusto. (squeaky cheese). Gene made some Monday night as part of the Heikinpaava events. It was pretty good, especially warm. God bless you Ben.

    Don Kuiper


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s