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Finland - Christmas traditions & customs


In Finland the Christmas tree is set up on Christmas Eve. Apples and other fruits, candies, paper flags, cotton and tinsel are used as decorations, and candles are used for lighting it.

Everybody's house is given a very good clean in readiness for Christmas. Hours are spent in the kitchen cooking and baking special treats for the festive season.

A sheaf of grain is often tied to a pole, together with nuts and seeds and placed in the garden for the birds. Many of the peasants will not eat their Christmas dinner until the birds have had their dinner.  The meal was begun as soon as the first star appeared in the sky.

The Christmas festivities are preceded by a visit to the famous steam baths, after which everyone dressed in clean clothes in preparation for the Christmas dinner, which is served at 5-7 in the evening.

Christmas gifts may be given out before or after the dinner. The children do not hang up stockings, but Santa Claus comes in person, often accompanied by as many as half a dozen Christmas elves to distribute the presents.

The main dish of the dinner is boiled codfish served snowy white and fluffy, with allspice, boiled potatoes, and cream sauce. The dried cod has been soaked for a week in a lye solution, then in clear water to soften it to the right texture. Also on the menu is roast suckling pig or a roasted fresh ham, mashed potatoes, and vegetables.

After dinner the children go to bed while the older people stay up to chat with visitors and drink coffee until about midnight.

Christmas Day services in the churches begin at six in the morning. It is a day for family visits and reunions. In some parts of the country the Star Boys tour the countryside singing Christmas songs. During all these days the people keep wishing each other a "Merry Yule."

 

 


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