You may have guessed from roadside trees for sale and twinkly lights popping up everywhere that it’s the final countdown for Christmas. But what exactly does that mean in Finland?
There is a very beautiful tradition of visiting the graveyard on Christmas Eve and lighting a candle to place on the grave in memory of those friends and family members not with us anymore. Finnish graveyards also have special areas that are for all those without a resting place or buried elsewhere which anyone is welcome to visit. Hietaniemi cemetery can be visited at Hietaniemenkatu 20.
Father Christmas is called ‘joulupukki’ in Finnish and he lives in Lapland (ask him yourself if you don’t believe me!). But because he lives so close Finnish children get the benefit of being first on the list and they get their presents on 24th December. It is fairly common Santa arrives on the doorstep at some point during the day and personally hands out the presents.
There is usually a Christmas sauna session and families also have their big Christmas dinner this day too.
Christmas dinner is quite an elaborate affair. The center piece is commonly a baked ham, lots of vegetables such as carrot and rice casserole, swede casserole, rosolli which is made from carrot, gherkin and beetroot, different forms of fish and of course the humble but not forgotten potato. You can buy these dishes ready-made easily in the chilled section in the supermarket if you want to try for yourself.
Christmas also means limited opening hours so make sure you check timetables for public transport (it shuts down early Christmas Eve), shops, bars, restaurants etc before you head out. Meanwhile hospitals will provide emergency health care (links below).
But most of all, on behalf of the International Student Ambassador’s and University Staff I would like to wish you a peaceful and relaxing Christmas holiday.
And dare it be said, fingers crossed for an amazing 2017 filled not least with amazing study success!
Sara Haapanen (Student Ambassador Coordinator)
Emergency health care information from HUS: http://www.hus.fi/en/medical-care/medical-services/emergency_care/Pages/default.aspx